Matthias Basedau

Coordinator West and Central Africa

Matthias Basedau is Matthias Basedau is director of the GIGA Institute of African Affairs in Hamburg and adjunct Professor at Hamburg University. Besides studying democracy and political parties, he focusses on peace and conflict studies. In particular, he investigates the role of ethnicity, political institutions, natural resources and religion as determinants of conflict. His regional focus is sub-Saharan Africa. He received his PhD from Heidelberg University with a thesis on the conditions of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa.

Aurel Croissant

Coordinator Asia and Oceania

Aurel Croissant is Professor of Political Science at Heidelberg University. His research interests include civil–military relations, democratization studies, conflict studies, comparative authoritarianism and Asian politics. His has published Party Politics, Pacific Review, Democratization, Journal of Democracy, Electoral Studies, Asian Survey, Democracy & Security, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and Terrorism and Political Violence, among others. He is editor of the journal Democratization and member of the Academic Advisory Boards of the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI), the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) and the German Institute for Global Affairs (GIGA).

Charlotte Heyl

Coordinator West and Central Africa

Charlotte Heyl is a political scientist and an Associate at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs. Her research focuses on democratization, elections, judicial politics, and presidentialism in sub- Saharan Africa. In her doctoral thesis at the University of Duisburg-Essen she examined the contribution of constitutional courts to the democratic quality of elections in Madagascar and Senegal.

Julia Renner-Mugono

Coordinator Southern and Eastern Africa

Julia Renner-Mugono is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Political Science at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. In her dissertation, she analysed the relationship between water availability, economic recovery and conflict dynamics in Kenya and Uganda. Her research interests include resource conflicts, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and global dynamics of resource distribution. Her regional focus is on Eastern and Southern Africa. She is an Associate Fellow at the Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate and a member of the research group "Land Use Conflicts" at the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Koblenz- Landau. She is also a member of the Peace and Conflict Research Association (AfK) and a member of the coordinating team of the research group "African Politics and International Relations".

Siegmar Schmidt

Coordinator Southern and Eastern Africa

Siegmar Schmidt is Professor for International Relations and Comparative Government at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany. He is also scientific director of the Frank Loeb Institute. Previously he had worked as an assistant professor at the University of Trier and the University of Mainz. He held the Willy Brand Chair of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2003/04. His research interests and a wide range of publications focus on African politics, development issues, foreign policy of Western states and European integration.

Allan Sikk

Coordinator East-Central and Southeast Europe

Allan Sikk is an Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He received his PhD from Tartu University, Estonia, and is the former head of the Estonian parliament’s research service. His main teaching and research interests are the evolution of political parties and party systems, electoral candidates, and political methodology. His research interests are currently expanding to political careers, political corruption and EU politics. Dr Sikk has recently compiled a dataset on electoral candidates in Central and Eastern Europe (, over 170,000 records) with Philipp Köker.

Hans-Joachim Spanger

Coordinator Post-Soviet Eurasia

Hans-Joachim Spanger holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Goethe University Frankfurt. He is Associate Fellow at the Leibniz Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) and previously served as Head of Department and Member of PRIF's Executive Board. His research interests include European security, democratization and democracy promotion with a regional focus on Russia. Since 2017 he has been Visiting Professor at the National Research University - Higher School of Economics in Moscow. He was Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and Chairman of the Advisory Board on Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Peace Building of the German Foreign Ministry.

Peter Thiery

Coordinator Latin America and the Caribbean

Peter Thiery is senior researcher at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Heidelberg. His research focuses on democracy, the rule of law and transformation processes in Latin America. Since 2002, he has contributed to the development of the BTI. With a doctoral thesis on "Transformation in Chile", he earned his Ph.D. at the University in Mainz, where he also completed an M.A. with a thesis on democratization in Spain. He also participated in several research projects at Universities of Munich and Würzburg, and was fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg. His numerous publications include the co-authored “Defekte Demokratie” vol. 1 & 2 (2003; 2006).

Christoph Trinn

Coordinator Asia and Oceania

Christoph Trinn works as a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Political Science of Heidelberg University. His main research interests focus on the intersection between conflict, regime and culture. Current and previous research projects have addressed religious and ethnic conflicts, mass protests and riots, social cohesion, hybrid regimes, autonomy arrangements, diffusion processes, nonlinear escalation dynamics and conflict forecasting. His regional focus is on South Asia. Moreover, he is a member of the Association of Peace and Conflict Studies (AFK) and the German Association for Political Science (DVPW).

Jan Völkel

Coordinator Middle East and North Africa

Jan Claudius Völkel is Senior Researcher at the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, University of Freiburg. His research focuses on contemporary developments in the Middle East and North Africa. He worked at the universities of Freiburg, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Cairo, Amman, Duhok (Iraqi Kurdistan), al-Quds and the European University Institute in Florence. From 2017 to 2019, he was Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, conducting research on the role of national parliaments in Arab transformation processes. He was visiting researcher at the universities of Dundee, Istanbul (Bahçeşehir), Montreal and Odense. Since 2016, he is a fellow of the Arab German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities.