Daniel Ziblatt — 2018 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award to Dr. Daniel Ziblatt at the 2018 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline. The $5,000 award, supported by Princeton University, recognizes the best book on government, politics, or international affairs.

Daniel Ziblatt is the Eaton Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University and a faculty associate at Harvard’s Minda De Gunzburg Center for European Studies . He researches and teaches in European politics, democratization, and historical political economy. He is the author of three books, including How Democracies Die (2018) (co-authored with Steven Levitsky), which was a 2018 New York Times best seller and Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), recipient of the American Sociological Association’s 2018 Barrington Moore Prize for best book in comparative and historical sociology.  His first book was Structuring the State: The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism (Princeton University Press, 2006), awarded APSA’s 2007 prize for best book in European Politics and Society. Recent scholarly articles have also appeared in Journal of Economic History,  American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies,and World Politics.  Ziblatt is the director of a research program at Harvard University called Politics Through Timewhich is a hub for social scientific research on the political history of democracy. He has also been director (interim) of Harvard’s Center for European Studies and has held visiting professorships and fellowships in the United States, Germany, Italy, and France, including most recently at the University of Munich’s Institute for Bavarian History. He serves on governing boards of several academic institutions and the editorial board of academic journals, including Comparative Political Studies, World Politics, and German Politics and Society.

At a time when democracies are under threat across the globe, Daniel Ziblatt’s reconsideration of the factors underlying democratization and democratic breakdown in Europe makes an important contribution to both the discipline of political science and our understanding of the world.  Contrary to both conventional wisdom and previous scholarship, Ziblatt shows that the nature of conservative party organization has an important role to play in comparative democratic stability, one that has, to date, been underappreciated. In reducing the perceived threat of an expanded franchise to the existing socioeconomic elite, conservative parties that are both inclusive and centralized can fortify liberal democracy in surprising ways. Ziblatt’s dazzling erudition and exhaustive research deploys whatever methods shed light on his central questions.  His willingness to follow the evidence where it leads, even if it takes him to unexpected places, is a model for scholarly political inquiry in polarized times. Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy illuminates the sources of democratic breakdown in Europe, while generating portable insights that might inform future research on regimes beyond Europe’s borders. The  Woodrow Wilson Award Committee unanimously sees Ziblatt’s book as one likely to be read for many years to come.