Democracy and Elections

We bring together political scientists and sociologists who study democracy, citizen participation and elections.


Research undertaken within Democracy and Elections at Manchester focuses on the challenges facing representative institutions and electoral politics, including the decline of trust in democratic institutions, the weakening of established parties, increasing electoral volatility, the rise of populism, the increased use of digital campaigning in elections, electoral fraud, and gender and racial inequalities. 

The mission of Democracy and Elections at Manchester is to provide informed and academic insights into these trends, and to reveal how political attitudes, behaviour, and institutions are changing in Britain and beyond.

We’re home to the ESRC-funded British Election Study (PI: Professor Ed Fieldhouse), and the ERC Advanced Grant ‘Digital Campaigning and Electoral Democracy’ (PI: Professor Rachel Gibson). Recent books published by members of Democracy and Elections include ‘Revolt on the Right’ by Robert Ford (and Matthew Goodwin), ‘Electoral Shocks: The Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World’ by the British Election Study team, and ‘Brexitland: Identity, Diversity, and the Reshaping of British Politics’, by Maria Sobolewska and Robert Ford.

Democracy and Elections are convened by Dr Nicole Martin and Dr Rosalind Shorrocks.

Research themes

We offer particular strength in the following areas: 

Our people

Academic staff

Jack Bailey, Research Associate

Jack Bailey is a Research Associate on the British Election Study. He is particularly interested in economic voting, sexual minority voting behaviour, and political polling and statistics.

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Dr Marta Cantijoch Cunill, Lecturer in Politics

Dr Cantijoch is a Q-Step Lecturer in Politics. Her research interests include political behaviour, political participation, elections and voting, political communication and the effects of new media. She is particularly interested in how citizens use the internet to engage in politics. She is available for comment to the media on the issues of Spanish politics and social media in politics.

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Professor Jackie Carter, Professor in Statistical Literacy and Q-Step Director

Dr Carter has extensive project experience as an expert in the provision and use of data in learning and teaching. Q-Step is a £19.5 million programme designed to promote quantitative social science training. Fifteen universities across the UK are delivering specialist undergraduate programmes, including new courses, work placements and pathways to postgraduate study.

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Professor Ed Fieldhouse, Professor of Social and Political Science

Prof Fieldhouse is the Principal Investigator of the British Election Study. He was appointed as founding director of the Institute for Social Change, a position which he held until September 2012. His main research interests are electoral geography and political participation and in particular social influences on voter turnout.

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Professor Rob Ford, Professor of Political Science

Professor Ford a political sociologist with expertise in immigration politics, voting behaviour and support for the extreme right. One of the country’s leading experts on UKIP, he has also been employed by the BBC as a consultant psephologist since 2005, working on general, local and devolved elections. He is a regular commentator in the media.

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Professor Rachel Gibson, Professor of Political Science

Prof Gibson is interested in the use of new media by political organisations and candidates in campaigns and elections. A former a Principal Investigator on the Australian Election Study (AES), and former Director of the Institute for Social Change at Manchester, she is currently directing an ERC Advanced Grant project on how digital technologies are reshaping the electoral landscape and the nature and purpose of political campaigns, in both new and old democracies.

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Dr Nicole Martin, Lecturer in Politics

Dr Martin is an expert on the politics of ethnic minority and immigrant voters in Europe, and the topic of ethnicity and immigration in politics more broadly. She works frequently with Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which has large ethnic minority and immigrant boost samples, and is the Politics and Social Attitudes Topic Champion on the study’s Scientific Leadership Team.

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Dr Jonathan Mellon, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Mellon is an expert in British electoral politics and has published on topics such as electoral volatility, tactical voting, and polling. He is a Co-I on the British Election Study at Manchester and is a consultant psephologist for the BBC. 

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Dr Olga Onuch, Senior Lecturer in Politics

Dr Onuch is a leading expert in Ukrainian and Argentine politics. She conducts a comparative study of protest politics, political behaviour and institutions, and good governance in democratizing states in Latin American and Eastern Europe. She is available for media interviews and her research has appeared in the Washington Post, The Times, BBC, ITV, Al Jazeera, AFP, among others. She is the PI of MOBILISE: Determinants of ‘Mobilisation’ at Home and Abroad.

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Dr Rosalind Shorrocks, Lecturer in Politics

Dr Shorrocks is an expert in gender and politics in Britain and comparatively, with a focus on electoral politics, political behaviour, and social attitudes. She is particularly interested in how gender shapes public opinion and vote choice, as well as public attitudes towards gender, gender-roles, and feminism. She is available to speak to the media about these topics.

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Professor Maria Sobolewska, Professor of Political Science

Professor Sobolewska is interested in the political integration and representation of ethnic minorities in Britain, public perceptions of integration, and the production and framing of public opinion of British Muslims. She has been part of the team conducting the Ethnic Minority British Election Survey in 2010 and the Representative Audit of Britain candidates survey. She is also a member of CoDe. She is available to talk to the media on these issues.

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Dr Nick Turnbull, Lecturer in Politics

Nick is a politics lecturer who is an expert in political rhetoric. Nick has worked as a political advisor to a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council and a civil servant in the Australian Public Service. He is able to analyse how speeches and statements made by politicians use language as a means to persuade. Has written about two main areas of study: social policy and the theory of policy and politics.

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Professor Angelia Wilson, Professor of Politics

Angelia is an expert on American politics, especially the rise of the Tea Party and the Christian Right. Her current project, 'The American Right & the Politics of Hate', includes original interviews with Tea Party members and participant observation in over a dozen grassroots gatherings.

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Postgraduate Researchers

Chris Butler

Chris looks at how governments in the UK respond to electoral incentives and tests the applicability of rational choice assumptions present in theories of policy responsiveness.

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Francisco Espinoza 

Francisco is a postgraduate researcher in Politics. His doctoral research focuses on electoral volatility at the individual level in Latin America, in particular during the stage known as the ‘pink tide’. He aims to understand the effect of social cleavages, political polarisation and economic factors in vote stability. Francisco is also interested in social movements, stratification and social representations.

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Ceri Fowler

Ceri's research is into gender and voting behaviour at the UK's 2016 referendum on EU membership. Her PhD considers how gender interacts with age, household, and broader contextual effects to affect voting behaviour. 

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James Griffiths

James's research explores the nature and political implications of nationalism within multi-nation states. Currently, his research includes analysis of sub-state nations across Britain, Western Europe and North America. James’s interests include comparative politics, elections and public opinion, and quantitative methods.

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Alex Hartland

Alex uses mixed methods to research public opinion, interest groups, and immigration policy in the UK and the EU. He is also interested in social movements, democratisation, and comparative politics.

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Marta Miori

Marta's PhD is a three-part study on Independence and Brexit support in Scotland. She aims to develop a long-term understanding of the nation's double constitutional cleavage by grounding her analysis in socio-demographic and value differences. She will also consider the interaction between Brexit and Independence, and how the two cleavages crosscut. Marta's broader interests include public opinion, political values, electoral behaviour, and quantitative methods. 

Kenneth Rushworth

Kenneth is researching electoral registration in Britain. His focus is on analysing the Individual Electoral Registration reform and assessing potential methods of improving registration practices. His research is based around how political attitudes effect registration behaviour; how different population groups interact with electoral registration across different local authorities; and whether any other registers used by citizens could be used to populate the electoral register. He has previous radio and television experience, including with the BBC.

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Ralph Scott

Ralph is a doctoral researcher in Politics at the University of Manchester, supervised by Prof Rob Ford and Prof Ed Fieldhouse. His research examines the relationship between education, political attitudes and vote choice, using longitudinal data.

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Dr David Cutts

Dr David Cutts is based at The University of Birmingham where he is a Professor in Political Science with a particular interest in electoral and political behaviour, party and political campaigning, political and civic engagement, party competition and methods for modelling political behaviour.

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Prof David Farrell

Professor of Politics, University College Dublin. He is a specialist in the study of parties, elections, electoral systems and members of parliament.  His current research focuses on the role of deliberation in constitutional reform processes

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Prof Matthew Goodwin

Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent. His interests are British politics, including elections and voting, Ukip and Euroscepticism and prejudice and far-right politics. His is co-author of Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain (Routledge, with Dr Robert Ford), which was the 2015 Political Book of the Year.

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Prof Alan Hamlin

Alan Hamlin has published widely on issues in institutional and constitutional design, expressive political behaviour, and topics in political philosophy including non-ideal theory and conservatism. He is working on the implications of the idea of expressive voting, an issue directly related to the analysis of elections. Prof Hamlin has also published on expressive political behaviour.

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Prof Will Jennings

Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance at the University of Southampton. His research interests include public policy, executive government, public opinion, comparative and British politics, political behaviour, risk governance in mega-projects and mega-events and time series analysis

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Prof Peter John

Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University College London. His research interests include electoral behaviour, social capital, citizenship and participation.

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Prof Laura Morales

Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Leicester. Interests lie, especially, in the areas of political behaviour, political parties, public opinion, the politics of immigration, and comparative politics.

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