Gruppenfoto DD
Research unit 'Democracy and Democratization', Photo: David Ausserhofer
Main content

The department investigates how institutions and political actors interact in a democracy - and how efficiently established and young democracies are when it comes to solving economic and social problems. The theoretical framework is embedded democracy - a concept in which democracies are kept intact by systems of government with interlocking partial regimes: an electoral regime, political liberties, civil rights, horizontal accountability and an effective power to govern.

This approach provides a comprehensive analysis of these partial regimes, in relation both to each other and to external challenges to democracy. Researchers focus on the diagnosis of the challenges to democracy, the comparative analysis of institutional systems, such as government or electoral systems, and the comparative study of important political actors such as parliament, administration or jurisdiction.


Ekpenyong Ani
Fon: +49 30 25491-313
ekpenyong.ani [at]

Roxanne Bibra
Fon: +49 30 25491-118
roxanne.bibra [at]

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin
Buchcover Legimitätsprobleme

Sascha Kneip, Wolfgang Merkel and Bernhard Weßels (Eds.)

Legitimitätsprobleme: Zur Lage der Demokratie in Deutschland

Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2020
ISBN 978-3-658-29557-8


Wolfgang Schroeder / Bernhard Weßels (eds.), Smarte Spalter. Die AfD zwischen Bewegung und Parlament. Dietz Verlag 2019


The Struggle Over Borders. Cosmopolitanism and Communitarianism. Edited by Pieter de Wilde, Ruud Koopmans, Wolfgang Merkel, Oliver Strijbis, Michael Zürn. Cambridge University Press 2019


Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation, edited by Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, Hans-Jürgen Wagener. Oxford University Press 2019

Cover Democracy and Crisis

Wolfgang Merkel and Sascha Kneip (eds.)

Democracy and Crisis. Challenges in Turbulent Times

Cham: Springer International Publishing 2018
ISBN: 978-3-319-72559-8

WZB Democracy Podcast

A series on current developments in research on democracy and regimes.

Ilyas Saliba invites scientists to discuss their research outcomes. The podcast gives insight into research on democracy, parties, elections, authoritarian regimes, and political transition.

Recent episode:
How autocracies undermine liberal norms
with Christoph Stefes and Betcy Jose


Democracy and Democratization

On our blog we present research results and look at current events from the perspective of political science.

Blog posts appear with erratic regularity. Your comments are welcome. Enjoy!

Posted on August 29, 2018:
Rethinking Partisanship
By Carlos Meléndez and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser
Cover Voters and Voting in Context

Harald Schoen, Sigrid Roßteutscher, Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Bernhard Weßels, and Christof Wolf (eds.)

Voters and Voting in Context
Multiple Contexts and the Heterogeneous German Electorate

Oxford: Oxford University Press 2017
ISBN: 978-0-19-879213-0

Cover Demokratie, Diktatur, Gerechtigkeit

Aurel Croissant, Sascha Kneip, and Alexander Petring (eds.)

Demokratie, Diktatur, Gerechtigkeit. Festschrift für Wolfgang Merkel

Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2017
ISBN: 978-3-658-16089-0

Cover Legitimität direkter Demokratie

Wolfgang Merkel and Claudia Ritzi (eds.)

Die Legitimität direkter Demokratie. Wie demokratisch sind Volksabstimmungen?

Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2017
ISBN 978-3-658-16232-0

Cover Handbuch Arbeitgeber- und Wirtschaftsverbände

Wolfgang Schroeder and Bernhard Weßels (eds.)

Handbuch Arbeitgeber- und Wirtschaftsverbände in Deutschland

2nd, completely revised edition.
Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2016
ISBN 978-3-658-08175-1

Cover Wahlen und Wähler

Harald Schoen and Bernhard Weßels (eds.)

Wahlen und Wähler. Analysen aus Anlass der Bundestagswahl 2013

Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2016
ISBN 978-3-658-11205-9