Professor Sara B Hobolt

Professor Sara B Hobolt

Sutherland Chair in European Institutions

Department of Government

Room No
CBG 4.34
Office Hours
On sabbatical 2022/2023
Connect with me

Danish, English
Key Expertise
Brexit, Elections, EU, Political Parties, Public Opinion, Referendums

About me

Sara Hobolt is the Sutherland Chair in European Institutions and professor in the Department of Government. Previously, she has held posts at the University of Oxford and the University of Michigan. She is the Chair of the European Election Studies (EES), an EU-wide project studying voters, parties, candidates and the media in European Parliamentary elections.

Professor Hobolt has published extensively on elections, referendums, public opinion and European Union politics. Her most recent book (co-authored with Catherine De Vries), Political Entrepreneurs. The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe, was published by Princeton University Press in 2020.

Her other books include Foundations of European Politics (Oxford University Press, 2020, with Catherine De Vries, Sven-Oliver Proksch and Jonathan Slapin), Blaming Europe? Responsibility without Accountability in the EU (Oxford University Press, 2014, with James Tilley) and Democratic Politics in a European Union Under Stress (Oxford University Press, 2014, co-edited with Olaf Cramme). She was awarded the Best Book prize by the European Union Studies Association in 2010 for her previous book Europe in Question: Referendums on European Integration (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Professor Hobolt is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Research interests

  • Public opinion and voting behaviour
  • Political parties
  • Elections and referendums
  • European Union politics
  • Comparative politics

Teaching responsibilities

  • GV4J4: Citizen Representation and Democracy in the European Union
  • GV251: Government, Politics and Public Policy in the European Union
  • EU4A1: The Politics and Policies of 'Brexit'


Political Entrepreneurs. The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe
(Catherine E. De Vries and Sara B. Hobolt, Princeton University Press, 2020)

How challenger parties, acting as political entrepreneurs, are changing European democracies

Challenger parties are on the rise in Europe. Like disruptive entrepreneurs, these parties offer new policies and defy the dominance of established party brands. In the face of these challenges and a more volatile electorate, mainstream parties are losing their grip on power. In this book, Catherine De Vries and Sara Hobolt explore why some challenger parties are so successful and what mainstream parties can do to face off these political entrepreneurs.

Drawing analogies with how firms compete, De Vries and Hobolt demonstrate that political change is as much about the ability of challenger parties to innovate, as it is about the inability of dominant parties to respond. Challenger parties employ two types of innovation to break established party dominance: they mobilize new issues, such as immigration, the environment, and Euroscepticism, and they employ anti-establishment rhetoric to undermine mainstream party appeal. Unencumbered by government experience, challenger parties adapt more quickly to shifting voter tastes and harness voter disenchantment. By focusing on strategies of dominance versus innovation, the authors explain why European party systems have remained stable for decades, but also why they are now increasingly under strain.

As challenger parties continue to seek to disrupt the existing order, Political Entrepreneurs shows that their ascendency fundamentally alters government stability and democratic politics.

Blaming Europe? Responsibility without Accountability in the EU
(Oxford University Press, 2014, with James Tilley)

A Comprehensive study of the attribution of responsibility in the EU, 'Blaming Europe?' explains why voters attribute credit and blame for policy outcomes to different levels of governance. The book presents findings based on a unique set of data that gathers together both individual opinions from surveys in all 27 member states as well as experiments and political context. 'Blaming Europe?' has important implications for debates on the quality of democratic accountability in the EU and the legitimacy of EU institutions.