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).

Ariam Macias-Weller

Coordinator Latin America and the Caribbean

Ariam Macias Herrera is a research fellow and doctoral candidate at the Institute for Political Science at Heidelberg University. Her research focuses on democratization studies, democratic backsliding, populism, and civil-military relations with a regional focus on Latin America. In her doctoral thesis, she examines the military’s role in the process of democratic backsliding in Latin America. She holds an MA in Political Science from Heidelberg University and BA in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Anja Osei

Coordinator Southern and Eastern Africa

Anja Osei is an independent researcher at the Department of Politics and Public Adminstration/University of Konstanz. She received her PhD from the University of Konstanz/Department of African Studies. She is currently working on the project “Do Legislatures Enhance Democracy in Africa?” which is funded by the European Research Council as an ERC Starting Grant under the Horizon 2020 framework. Her research interests include democratization, political institutions, political elites and political parties in Africa, as well as Social Network Analysis. The fields of interest include Political Science, Area Studies, and Sociology. She has done field research in Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Sierra Leone, Mali, Gabon, Uganda, and Cameroon. Anja Osei has published in leading journals like Comparative Politics, Democratization, Party Politics, and African Affairs.

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 Academic Dean at the IES Abroad Freiburg and Associate 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. He is an alumnus of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Martin Welz

Coordinator West- and Central Africa

Martin Welz is Professor at the Institute of Cultural Studies at the University of the Bundeswehr Munich. His work focuses on African history and politics, the African Union, Africa's role in the world as well as on international orders and international conflict management. His expertise in Africa is based, among other things, on extended study visits and field research in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Martin Welz received his doctorate from the University of Konstanz with a dissertation on the African Union. In 2021 his book "Africa since Decolonization: The History and Politics of a Diverse Continent" was published in German and English by Cambridge University Press and Kohlhammer.