Dr Richard Whitaker


BA (Salford), MA Econ, PhD (Manchester)

Contact Details

Research Interests

My main research interests concern two areas: the study of legislatures, and British centre-right parties and European integration. On the first of these, my work so far has focused principally on the European Parliament and its internal organisation, specifically committees, party groups and national parties. I have also worked on the relationship between parliament and government at Westminster. On the second area, with Philip Lynch and Gemma Loomes, I have worked on a Leverhulme-funded project on party competition on the centre-right and have previously researched the Conservatives in the European Parliament (with Philip Lynch). I am currently chairing the Department's research cluster on Parties, Participation and Public Opinion (3PO).

Current Research

1. Competing on the centre-right: an examination of party strategy in Britain

With Philip Lynch I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Project Grant of £49,212 to look at party competition on the centre-right in Britain. Building on our previous British Academy-funded study of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, this project examines in detail Conservative and UKIP attitudes, policy and electoral strategy on European integration at the next European Parliament and general elections. The project employs a range of research methods including candidate surveys, elite interviews, analysis of party manifestos and existing elite opinion and European Parliament roll-call voting data. For further details see our project web site.

2. The European Parliament’s Committees: National Party Influence and Legislative Empowerment

This research monograph has been published by Routledge as part of their Contemporary European Studies series. The book analyses the development of the European Parliament’s (EP) committees and their relationship with national political parties in the light of the EP’s increased legislative role in the last two decades. This growth in powers means that the European Parliament’s actions are now more likely than ever to affect the policy goals of national political parties and, indirectly, their electoral prospects back home. Given that most of the EP’s detailed legislative work takes place in its committees, the relationship between them and political parties is crucial for explaining how the EP works.

Recent Research Activities

I gave evidence as an expert witness to a hearing of the European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs committee in May 2013. The hearing concerned the European Parliament's right to self-organization and my evidence related to research conducted for my book on the European Parliament's committees. With Philip Lynch I presented a paper at the 2013 Annual Conference of the American Political Science Association on the Conservatives and European integration. I presented a paper on careers in the European Parliament at the ECPR General Conference in Reykjavik (Aug 2011).

PhD Supervision and Examination

As noted above, my main research interests concern two areas: the study of legislatures, and British centre-right parties and European integration. Plans for future research include work on Eurosceptics in the European Parliament and the success or otherwise of Euroscepticism more broadly. I would be keen to supervise projects on the European Parliament, the Westminster Parliament, comparative legislatures (particularly committees and parties in legislatures), and Eurosceptic political parties.

I currently supervise three PhD students: Laura MacKenzie who works on radical right parties and the European Parliament, Valasia Savvidou, working on immigration and voting behaviour, and Berta Barbet Porta working on heresthetics: issues, party strategies and electoral behaviour. I supervised Peter Thomas who gained his PhD in December 2013 on the politicization of immigration by the centre-right in the UK and France, 2000-2010. I was second supervisor to Tim Sansom who completed his thesis on 'Political Marketing: The Conservatives in Opposition' in 2009, to Carol Weaver who completed a thesis on US-Russian tensions and EU policy in the Black Sea region in 2011 and to Mukhtar Hajizada who was awarded his PhD in December 2012 on 'Complex regionalisation in the wider Black Sea area'.

Learn more and apply for research degrees in Politics and International Relations.

I have acted as external examiner for PhD theses by David Marshall (LSE), Ana-Iuliana Postu (Royal Holloway) and Amy Busby (Sussex).


My teaching, past and present, covers the following areas:

  • European Union institutions and policy-making
  • Comparative legislatures
  • Comparative politics in general
  • Research methods in political science

Recent Publications


The European Parliament's Committees (2011) The European Parliament's committees: National party influence and legislative empowerment, London: Routledge. Replication data

Recent Journal Articles and Chapters

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Contact Details

Department of Politics and International Relations
University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2702
Fax : +44 (0)116 252 5082
Email: politics@le.ac.uk

Departmental News

Research Seminars:

NEXT: Prof Jane Green (Manchester University) "Explaining the Costs of Governing: How the public evaluates government performance, and why this matters" on 28th May, 3pm in Fielding Johnson, first floor Council Suite, room 1.

3 x Distance Learning PhD Scholarships available for September 2014 entry.

Emeritus Professor of International Politics, Geoff Berridge, has just published his biography of E. C. Grenville-Murray. Read it here for free.

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