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Melis Laebens is a PhD candidate in the political science department at Yale University. Her research focuses on democracy and political parties. Her dissertation project studies the
process and outcomes of attempts by incumbent leaders to take over democratic institutions.
Identifying incumbents worldwide who attempted takeover via institutional means since 1990, she aims to explain why incumbents challenge democratic institutions and why some
democracies are more resilient against incumbents with authoritarian tendencies. Based on qualitative and quantitative data, including survey data as well as elite interviews and data on
legislator backgrounds gathered through field research in Turkey and Ecuador, she argues that organizational characteristics of the ruling party help explain why some democracies
survive incumbent takeover attempts while others do not.
In other works she studies partisan identities and political behavior in Turkey and the organizational development of parties in Poland. In addition to Turkey, Poland and Ecuador, Melis also has research experience in Colombia, where she resided for several months and conducted research on party organizations as well as electoral politics in rural areas. She is a co-founder of the Northeast Working Group on Turkish Politics, a collective of graduate students whose research focuses on Turkey.
She holds two BAs in Economics and Political Science and International Relations from Bosphorus University in Istanbul. She speaks Turkish, French, Spanish and German in addition to English.
Articles and Publications:
- Enemigos internos: democracia y amenazas de autocratización, Nueva Sociedad, No. 282, July-August 2019.