Dr. Sean Mueller is lecturer and post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Political Science, University of Berne. He is also editorial assistant of the Swiss Political Science Review, co-convenor of the working group on "Federalism & Territorial Politics" of the Swiss Political Science Association (since 2011), and in the editorial board of "Fédéralisme-Régionalisme" (since 2013).

Regular classes

Since 2013: „Introduction to Swiss Politics“ (autumn) and „Territory and Power in Switzerland“ (spring): BA seminars, University of Berne; all in English.

As of 2016: "Politique suisse et comparée" (spring): BA lecture, University of Lauanne; in French


Invited talks and lectures


2013-15: "Le Fonctionnement du Parlement Suisse", annual lecture given in Berne for law students from the University of Neuchâtel (Prof. Blaise Carron).

2011-14: "Federalism vs. Democracy", lecture held annually at the CIFE Summer School in Canterbury/UK, August.

2012: "Power, Territory and War: The Case of Georgian-Russian Relations", lecture given at the Canterbury Christ Church University/UK, for the BA class on International Relations, 21 February 2012.

2011: "Swiss Federalism: Origin, Operation, Significance", lecture given at the University of Kent/UK, for the MA class by Prof. Michael Burgess on comparative federalism, 18 October 2011.

2007+08: "Introduction au système politique Suisse", lectures given at the Institute of Federalism in Fribourg/CH for a delegation of students from Québec.

2008: "Collegialism and Direct Democracy: Two Reinforcing Elements of Swiss Federalism", lecture given in Fribourg/CH for a delegation of the Tanzania Joint Finance Commission, 22 September.

2007: "Federalism as an Institution of Political Power Control", lecture given at the Chancellor’s College, University of Malawi, 9 October.


"Theorising Decentralisation: Comparative Evidence from Sub-National Switzerland." ECPR Press (July2015).


Edited volumes & special issues

"Federalismo Svizzero: Attori, Strutture, Processi". Under contract with Armando Dadò, Locarno (2017).

(With Oscar Mazzoleni) "Regionalist Parties in Western Europe". Under contract with Ashgate (2016).

(With Alain-G. Gagnon & Soeren Keil) "Understanding Federalism and Federation". Ashgate (July 2015).

(With Markus Freitag & Adrian Vatter) "Switzerland’s Immigration Challenge: A Symposium." Swiss Political Science Review 21:1 (March 2015).

(With Michael Burgess & Soeren Keil) "Federalism and Identity". Federal Governance 10:2 (2013).

Research Articles (peer-reviewed)

(With Adrian Vatter and Tobias Arnold) “State Capture from Below? The Contradictory Effects of Decentralisation on Public Spending”. Forthcoming in Journal of Public Policy.

(With David Siroky and Michael Hechter) “Cultural Legacies and Political Preferences: The Failure of Separatism in the Swiss Jura”. Forthcoming in European Political Science Review.

(With Oscar Mazzoleni) “Cross-Border Integration through Contestation? Regionalist Parties and Media in the Swiss-Italian Borderland.” Accepted in Journal of Borderlands Studies.

(With Paolo Dardanelli) “Langue, culture politique et centralisation en Suisse”. Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée 21(4) (2014), pp. 73–94.

“Shared Rule in Federal Political Systems: Conceptual Lessons from Subnational Switzerland”. Publius: The Journal of Federalism 44:1 (Winter 2014), pp. 82–108.

"Conflicting Cantonalisms: Disputed Sub-national Territorial Identities in Switzerland". L’Europe en Formation no. 369 (Autumn 2013), pp. 86–102. Special issue on "Small Worlds: Constituent Units in Federal States and Federal Political Systems", ed. by Michael Burgess and Soeren Keil.

(With Soeren Keil) "The Territoriality of Fiscal Solidarity: Comparing Swiss Equalisation with European Union Structural Funding". Perspectives on Federalism 5:1 (October 2013), pp. 122–148.

(With Daniele Albertazzi) “Populism and Liberal Democracy: Populists in Government in Austria, Italy, Poland and Switzerland”. Government & Opposition 48:3 (June 2013), pp. 343–371. Special issue in memory of Ghita Ionescu, ed. by Ingrid van Biezen and Helen Wallace.

“Federalism and the Concept of Political Territoriality: Towards an Analytical Framework for Comparative Territorial Politics”. L’Europe en Formation no. 363 (March 2012), pp. 95–120. Special issue on “A New Era of Federalism”, ed. by Francesco Palermo and Elisabeth Alber.

“The Politics of Local Autonomy: Measuring Cantonal (De)Centralisation in Switzerland”. Space and Polity 15:3 (December 2011), pp. 213–239.

“The Conflict between Basescu and Tariceanu – A Governmental System Viewpoint.” Sfera Politicii–Romanian Political Science Journal No. 126–127 (June 2007), pp. 50–61.


Book Chapters

(With Adrian Vatter) "Kompetenzverteilung im Schweizer Föderalismus: Zentralisierung trotz ausgebauter institutioneller Sicherungen und Föderalismusreform". Forthcoming in "Kompetenzverteilungssysteme in Europa", ed. Peter Bußjäger, Anna Gamper, Ferdinand Karlhofer, Walter Obwexer, and Günther Pallaver. Nomos-Verlag.

(With Jean-Luc Gassmann) "Switzerland: The Curious Case of Elected Prefects". Forthcoming in "Prefects, governors & commissioners: A European survey on territorial representatives of the State", ed. Gildas Tanguy and Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans. Brussels: Bruylant.

(With Julian Bernauer) "Einheit in der Vielfalt? Ausmass und Gründe der Nationalisierung von Schweizer Parteien". In: Freitag, Markus, and Adrian Vatter (eds.), "Wahlen und Wählerschaft in der Schweiz", Zürich: Verlag NZZ (2015), pp. 325–354.

"Switzerland: Federalism as an Ideology of Balance". In: Gagnon/Keil/Mueller (eds.), "Understanding Federalism and Federation" (2015).

(With Alain-G. Ganon and Soeren Keil) "Introduction". In: Gagnon/Keil/Mueller (eds.), "Understanding Federalism and Federation" (2015).

(With Adrian Vatter) "Regionalismus als Ausweg aus der Krise". In: Teufel, Erwin, and Winfried Mack (eds.), "Aus der Krise lernen: Auf dem Weg zu einer weltoffenen und humanen Gesellschaft", Freiburg i.Br.: Herder-Verlag (2014), pp. 153–165.

“Fiscal Decentralisation in Switzerland”, in Зарубежный опыт новаций в межбюджетных отношениях [Foreign Experience of Intergovernmental Fiscal Innovations], ed. Vladimir Klimanov, pp. 11–35. IROF Series Vol. 19, Moscow 2009.


Book Reviews

„Alan Tarr & Michael Burgess (eds.) (2012): Constitutional Dynamics in Federal Systems: Sub-national Perspectives.“ Regional & Federal Studies 24:3 (September 2014), pp. 401–404.

“Frédéric Bouhon & Min Reuchamps (eds.) (2012): Les systèmes électoraux de la Belgique.” Revue française de science politique 63:3 (December 2013).

“Min Reuchamps (2011): L’avenir du fédéralisme en Belgique et au Canada: Quand les citoyens en parlent.” Revue canadienne de science politique 46:3 (September 2013), pp. 736–737.

„Sonia Alonso (2012): Challenging the State: Devolution and the Battle for Partisan Credibility. A Comparison of Belgium, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.“ Swiss Political Science Review 18:4 (December 2012), pp. 543–545.

„Nicole Bolleyer (2009): Intergovernmental Cooperation. Rational Choice in Federal Systems and Beyond.“ Regional & Federal Studies 22:3 (July 2012), pp. 355–356.

„Kyle Scott (2011): Federalism. A Normative Theory and its Practical Relevance.“ Swiss Political Science Review 18:1 (March 2012), pp. 144–146.

Other publications

(With Marc Bühlmann) "Mischverfassung statt Mehrheitsentscheidung". Erwägen-Wissen-Ethik 25(3) (2014), pp. 391–393.

“Notes on recent elections: The parliamentary elections in the Republic of Georgia, 2012”. Electoral Studies 34 (June 2014), pp. 342–346.

(With Paolo Dardanelli) “Notes on recent elections: The parliamentary and executive elections in Switzerland, 2011”. Electoral Studies 32:1 (March 2013), pp. 197–201.

In the United Kingdom

(With Clive Church and Paolo Dardanelli) “Switzerland’s approach to EU engagement: a financial services perspective”, report prepared for the City of London Corporation, April 2013.

(With Clive Church and Paolo Dardanelli) “The ‘Swiss Model’ of Relations with the EU and its relevance for the UK”, in The future of the European Union: UK Government policy, ed. House of Commons Foreign Relations Committee, pp. 39–45 (May 2012).

In Switzerland

“Local Self-Government in Switzerland – Between Federalism and Decentralisation”, IFF/IRCC Working Paper, presented at the “Conference on Local Government in Sudan” in Khartoum/Sudan, 28–29 April 2008. [Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC.]

(With Lidija R. Basta Fleiner) “Conflict Dynamics Indicators and Decentralisation Processes.“ IFF/IRCC Factsheet, Fribourg/CH, May 2007. [Funded by the SDC.]

(With Sarah Byrne and Gabriela Mirescu) “Decentralisation and Access to Justice – A Literature Review.” IFF/IRCC Factsheet, Fribourg/CH, January 2007. [Funded by the SDC.]

Current research

I've recently presented my current research papers at the folllowing conferences:

  • IPSA RC 28 Conference in Edinburgh (16-18 September 2015)
  • ECPR General Conference in Montréal (27-29 August 2015)
  • CES Annual Conference in Paris (8-10 July 2015)
  • ASU workshop on religion and politics in Tempe AZ (26-27 February 2015)
  • Swiss Political Science Association Annual Conference in Lausanne (5-7 February 2014)
  • Nationale Föderalismuskonferenz in Solothurn (27-28 November 2014)
  • University of Berne Self-Determination Conference (9-11 October 2014)
  • ECPR General Conference in Glasgow (3-6 September 2014)
  • APSA Annual Conference in Washington, DC (28-31 August 2014)
  • IPSA World Congress in Montréal (20-24 July 2014)
  • CES Annual Conference in Washington, DC (14-16 March 2014)
  • Swiss Political Science Association Annual Conference in Berne (30-31 January 2014)

Earlier conference papers

(With Oscar Mazzoleni and Philippe Koch) “Vertical Careers and Multilevel Institutional Experience. A typology of parliamentary candidates in Switzerland”. Paper presented at the 7th ECPR General Conference in Bordeaux, 4–7 September 2013.

(With Marie-Hélène Schrobiltgen) „Confederalism in Belgium: Requiem or Hymn?” Paper presented at the 12th annual meeting of the Nederlandse Kring voor Wetenschap der Politiek (NKWP) and the Vereniging voor Politieke Wetenschappen (VPW) in Ghent, 30–31 May 2013.

(With Oscar Mazzoleni and Philippe Koch) “Cursus honorum and multilevel career patterns in Switzerland: A typology and three hypotheses”. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Swiss PSA in Zurich, 1–2 February 2013.

(With Soeren Keil) “Fiscal Federalism and Solidarity: ‘Demoicracy’ in Switzerland and the European Union”. Paper presented at the workshop on “Demoicracy” in the EU: The Design and Functioning of Multi-level Democracy in Zurich, 1–2 Nov 2012.

(With Paolo Dardanelli) “Localism or Centralism? Exploring ‘Macro-Local’ Reforms in the Swiss Cantons.” Paper presented at the 62nd PSA Annual Conference in Belfast, 3–5 April 2012. [Conference grant obtained from the PSA Postgraduate Fund: £100]

“Why Decentralisation? A socio-cultural explanation with evidence from the Swiss cantons.” Paper presented at the Annual Congress of the Swiss PSA in Lucerne, 2–3 February 2012.

(With Jean-Luc Gassmann) “An elected prefect, a lost prefect?” Paper [in French] presented at the workshop on “Figures du préfet – une comparaison européenne”, Science Po Toulouse, 17–18 November 2011. [Funding for travel and accommodation obtained from host institution, ca. 400€]

(With Marie-Hélène Schrobiltgen) „Requiem or Hymn? Commemorating Confederalism and Re-inventing Confederations.” Paper presented at the Conference on “Belgium: The State of the Federation” in Brussels, 14 October 2011.

“Explaining Multilevel Electoral Turnout: Comparative Evidence from Sub-national Switzerland”. Paper presented at the Annual Congress of French-Speaking PSAs in Brussels, 20–22 April 2011. [Funding obtained from the PSA Overseas Fund: £340]

“The Free-List Electoral System as Territorial Integration: Communal Federalism in Canton Glarus”. Paper [in German] presented at the “3-Länder-Tagung” of the German, Austrian and Swiss PSAs in Basel, 13–14 January 2011.

“National, Confederal, Regional, Inter-Local? The Scale of Political Parties in the Canton of Glarus, Switzerland”. Paper presented at the panel “Where’s the party?”, Annual Congress of the Italian PSA in Venice, 16–18 September 2010.

(With Marlène Gerber) "4 cool graphs that explain Sunday’s Swiss elections", at The Monkey Cage (23 October 2015)

(With Marlène Gerber) "It’s confusing when the Swiss go to the polls. Here are 6 surprising things about their elections", at The Monkey Cage (16 October 2015)

(With Thomas Milic) "Direct democracy in Switzerland: Yes to the army, vaccinations, and petrol station shops", at The Monkey Cage (23 September 2013)

"Post-Election Report: 2012 Georgian Parliamentary Election", at The Monkey Cage (2 October 2012)

"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2012 Georgian Parliamentary Elections Pre-Election Report", at The Monkey Cage (29 September 2012)

(With Paolo Dardanelli) "Switzerland's Post-Election Report: 2011 Parliamentary Elections, at The Monkey Cage (25 October 2011)


2009-13: PhD on explaining intra-cantonal decentralisation in Switzerland, University of Kent in Canterbury, UK (viva voce: May 2013; award: November 2013)

2007-08: Research Fellow, Institute of Federalism in Fribourg

2003-04: Erasmus exchange student, Università La Sapienza, Rome

2001-06: lic.phil. (=MA), University of Fribourg, with a thesis on Romanian Semi-Presidentialism (summa cum laude).

Teaching experience

2009 & 2013: MA classes in political science at various universities in Tbilisi, Georgia

2012: EU Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University

2009-11: BA seminar leader in comparative politics & politics of the Middle East at the University of Kent

Summer Schools attended

2015: ECPR Methods School, Ljubljana (R & multivariate regression)

2011: "Social Science Methods", Swiss Summer School in Lugano/CH.

2010: ECPR "Federalism & Regionalism" Summer School, Edinburgh.

2008: "Fiscal Decentralisation", Central European University, Budapest.

2007: "Federalism, Constitutionalism, and Democratic Governance in Multicultural Societies", Institute of Federalism, Fribourg/CH.


2009: Intern at the Agricultural Division of Canton Glarus (3 months)

2005: Intern at the Swiss Embassy in Bucharest (3 months)

2001: Intern at the Südostschweiz Presse AG (1 month)

2000-02: freelance journalist für the Südostschweiz daily