UCL European Institute


Book launch 'Party People: Electoral Candidates and Party Evolution'

01 May 2024, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

Cover Party People

A SSEES Politics and Sociology book launch

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to









Masaryk Room
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton Street
United Kingdom

The topic

Political parties are nothing without their people and candidates are essential to parties' core functions - contesting elections, filling political offices, and shaping policy. Candidates are the literal 'face' of parties, yet they are not wedded to them permanently: candidates can enter or leave politics, switch parties, move along or stay behind when parties split or merge. Even in parties that look stable, candidate change happens below the surface, ultimately altering what the parties stand for. Inspired by evolutionary theories, Party People: Candidates and Party Evolution conceptualizes candidates as 'party genes' and develops a candidate-based approach to party evolution. Tracking candidates between elections and parties opens up new perspectives on party development in complex and dynamic settings in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and beyond.

Based on a new database of 200,000 electoral candidates from over 60 elections across nine CEE democracies, this book presents a groundbreaking study of party evolution using candidate change as an indicator of party change. Allan Sikk and Philipp Köker offer a series of methodological and conceptual advances for the measurement of candidate turnover, party fission and fusion, programmatic change, and party leadership change; the resulting analyses make a significant contribution to the study of CEE party politics as well as to the general scholarship on elections, parties, and political change.

Access the book (Oxford Scholarship Online)

Meet the speakers

The authors

Allan Sikk is an Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. His research focuses on European electoral and party politics, research methods, and political and social transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. His work has been published in journals including the European Journal of Political Research and Party Politics, and in edited volumes from Oxford University Press and Routledge.

Philipp Köker is a Lecturer and Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science, Leibniz University Hannover. His research focuses on presidential politics, political parties and elections, and comparative constitutional law. He is the author of Presidential Activism and Veto Power in Central and Eastern Europe (Palgrave, 2017) and of contributions to DemocratizationEast European PoliticsParty Politics, the Review of Central and East European Law, and The Oxford Handbook of Polish Politics, among others.


Zeynep Somer-Topcu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are at the intersection of political parties and voter behavior in advanced democracies. In her recent work, she is interested in understanding how parties conduct their internal party elections and leadership selections and how these internal procedures affect party performance and evaluations.


Irina Petrova Lecturer in the Politics of Eurasia at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London; convenor of UCL SSEES Politics & Sociology Seminar Series.

This event is hosted by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, and more specifically SSEES Politics and Sociology.