My research focuses on democratic representation. I seek to understand how political systems differ in their ability to aggregate individual preferences and map these onto policies. How are citizen preferences translated into policies? I seek to understand how institutions enable this process whereby a large part of my research investigates direct democratic institutions. I ask how we can measure citizen preferences (Leemann and Wasserfallen, 2017; Broniecki et al., 2020; Leemann et al., 2021), how they affect policy outcomes (Leemann and Wasserfallen, 2016; Emmenegger et al., 2020), but also how political actors can use these institutions and how direct democracy interacts with elements of representative democracy (Leemann, 2015; Baccini and Leemann, 2020). Finally, I also investigate how institutions were adopted in the first place (Leemann and Mares, 2014; Leemann, 2019).
The questions I ask lead me to work in three different areas: direct democracy, historical political economy, and methodology. Geographically, I focus mostly on Switzerland but there are projects in other regions and work that extends the geographical focus.
Past work with Isabela Mares won the Lawrence Longley Award for the best article on representation and electoral systems in 2015. Joint work with Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen was awarded the ECPR Standing Group on Democratic Innovations Best Paper Prize in 2020. A paper co-authored with Leo Baccini won the Best Paper Prize of Political Science Research and Methods in 2022.