Lecturer of Comparative Political Science at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, Department of Political Science.
I studied Political Science and Public Administration at the Vrije Universiteit from which I received my Masters degree after completing a study on coalition governments in the Netherlands.
Thereafter I worked as a Research Assistant (AIO) in a joint project of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Rijksuniversiteit Leiden. In this period I wrote my PhD on the transformation of political parties in Western Europe, entitled 'The catch-all party in Western Europe. A study in arrested development'. This dissertation received the qualification cum laude.
I published several articles and book contributions on presidential and parliamentary political systems, the transformation of political parties, social movements and political institution-building processes and democratisation in East and Central European countries as well as on domestic elections and politics in the Netherlands.
I have a broad experience in the field of social research, both in the pure academic sphere as well as in applied social science. I worked as a commercial Marketing Researcher (1987-1992) and attended semesters and Summer Schools at Essex University (UK), University of Oslo (Norway), University of Chicago, University of Illinois (USA) and the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies in Wassenaar.
In co-operation with the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Department of Philosophy and the Verweij-Jonker Foundation in Utrecht, I am involved in a study on the integration of ethnic minorities in Dutch society. I also participated in a research group that observed and analysed the inplementation of inter-active forms of policy-formation in several Dutch cities.
Since 1992 I have also conducted research in several countries during election periods: the 'superelecciones' in 1994 in Brazil (where I met Lula), the 1996 local elections in Romania and the 1998 elections in the USA). I have also been an official observer at the 2002 elections in Macedonia.
In 1999 I was granted a scholarship by the United States Information Service of the American Department of Foreign Affairs to participate in the Summer Institute on American Politics at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (Illinois USA) to study local elections and political campaigning in the United States (yes, here I met Bill Clinton!).
On behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs I conducted several ‘fact-finding’ research missions in Romania and Bulgaria within the MATRA-framework (MATRA is an assistance programme for Central and Eastern European countries aimed at supporting their transition to pluralist constitutional states and market-oriented economies). In addition, I worked as a consultant/rapporteur for several Dutch and foreign NGO’s in countries such as Nicaragua, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Poland. These missions have resulted in several projects of co-operation between Western and Eastern European governments and NGO’s.
I not only analysed the electoral process from the outside. As an active
politician I was involved in inner party activities as well as in the process
of decentralisation of the Amsterdam municipal government (Binnengemeentelijke
Decentralisatie) since 1989. In 1994 he I elected as a representative in
the local council of his municipality, and I served (almost) two terms