School of Social and Political Science

Professor Wilfried Swenden

Job Title

Professor of South Asian and Comparative Politics, Head of Politics and International Relations

Wilfried Swenden photo

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)




  • Licentiaat Politieke Wetenschappen (KULeuven)
  • MA International Relations (ULBruxelles)
  • D.Phil Politics, St Antony's College (University of Oxford)

Course convenor (2021-22)

  • Understanding Indian Politics (honours, semester 2)

Contribute to following courses: 

  • PIR1a (UG year 1, semester 1)  
  • South Asia: Culture, Politics and the Economy (UG Honours) 

Biographical statement

Wilfried Swenden is Professor of South Asian and Comparative Politics. He hails from Belgium where he completed undergraduate studies in Political Science (Leuven) and International Relations (Bruxelles). He completed his D.Phil (University of Oxford) followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in Leuven, funded by the Flemish Fund of Scientific Research (FWO). He moved to the University of Edinburgh in 2004. Between 2015 and 2018 he was Co-Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at the university. 

Wilfried has worked extensively on multi-level governance and federalism. Although his earlier publications focus on federalism in Western Europe (and Australia), since 2011 he has developed a strong interest in South Asian Politics, which is now his main geographical focus of research. His current research interests are situated in the following three areas: (1) the comparative study of constitutional dynamics and intergovernmental relations in federal states, especially India  (2) multi-level party systems and territorial party politics, in particular the organization and strategies of statewide parties in a multi-level context; (3) the strength and weaknesses of territorial management for governing divided societies and their comparison with other strategies for conflict management, especially in India and South Asia. 

Wilfried currently coordinates a British Academy-GRCF collaborative grant on COVID-19 and the South Asian State (2021-2023) involving colleagues from Gothenburg, Delhi, IIT Hyderabad and Jaffna (Sri Lanka) to study the effect of COVID-19 on worker rights in India (Delhi, Kerala) and Sri Lanka. Prior to that he completed a Leverhulme International network on Continuity and Change in Indian Federalism (2014-17)  involving three UK and three India-based universities. Apart from his BA and Leverhulme funded work, previous research has been supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research, the University of Edinburgh Global Innovation Fund and the Hayter Fund. He has published two monographs, six edited collections and (co-) authored several articles, which appeared among others in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Comparative European Politics, the European Journal of Political Research, Government and Opposition, India Review, the International Political Science Review, the Journal of Common Market Studies, Party Politics, Publius: the Journal of Federalism, Regional & Federal Studies, Regional Studies, Seminar, Territory, Politics and Governance, the Swiss Political Science Review and West European Politics.

Wilfried served as the editor of Regional and Federal Studies from January 2008 until December 2015 and as Managing Editor from January 2016 until May 2018. Since July 2018 he is the South Asia editor for the Asian Journal of Political Science. Between 2007 and 2013, Wilfried co-convened the ECPR Standing Group on Federalism and Regionalism, the largest European network in the field of territorial politics. Between 2012 and 2016 he was also Vice-Chair of IPSA RC28, the Research Committee on Comparative Federalism and Multi-Level Governance of the International Political Science Association. 

Forthcoming and recent publications include

Wilfried Swenden and Katharine Adeney (2021), 'Federalism and Democracy in India: mutually reinforcing?' in Arthur Benz and Jared Sonnicksen, eds., Federal Democracies at Work: varieties of complex government (Toronto: University of Toronto Press) 

Wilfried Swenden and Rekha Saxena (2021), 'Policing the Federalism. The Supreme Court and Judicial Federalism in India', Territory, Politics & Governance, Early View 

Daniel Cetrà and Wilfried Swenden (2021) 'State Nationalism and Territorial Accommodation in Spain and India', Regional and Federal Studies31, (1), 115-137

Chanchal Kumar Sharma and Wilfried Swenden (2020), 'Economic Governance: does it make or break a Dominant Party Equilibrium? The case of India', International Political Science Review, 41, (3), 451-65

Wilfried Swenden and Rekha Saxena, (2020), 'Environmental Competencies in India's Federal System' in Ciecierska-Holmes, Natalia, Jörgensen, Kirsten, Ollier, Lana Laura and D. Raghunandan, eds., Environmental Policy in India (New York/London: Routledge), 17-38

Katharine Adeney and Wilfried Swenden (2019), 'Power-Sharing in the World's Largest Democracy. Informal Consociationalism in India (and its Decline?), Swiss Political Science Review25, (4), 450-75

Arjan Schakel, Chanchal Kumar Sharma and Wilfried Swenden (2019), 'India after the 2014 General Elections. BJP Dominance and the Crisis of the Third Party System,' Regional and Federal Studies, 29, 3, 329-354 

Wilfried Swenden (2019), 'Team India and the NITI Aayog' in Aiyar Yamini and Louise Tillin, eds. The Union and the States. A symposium on the Changing Federal Dynamic of India', Seminar717, May, 28-33

Wilfried Swenden (2018), 'Territorial Politics in South Asia: between territorial accommodation and majoritarianism' in Detterbeck, Klaus and Eve Hepburn, eds., Edward Elgar Handbook of Territorial Politics, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 371-87 

Chanchal Kumar Sharma and Wilfried Swenden (2018), 'Modi-fying Indian Federalism? Centre-State Relations under Modi's Tenure as Prime Minister', Indian Politics and Policy1, (1), 51-82

Wilfried Swenden (2018), 'Governing Diversity in South Asia: Explaining Divergent Pathways in India and Pakistan', Publius: the Journal of Federalism, vol.48, (1), 102-133

Arjan Schakel and Wilfried Swenden (2018), 'Rethinking Party System Nationalization. Evidence from India 1952-2014', Government and Opposition53 (1), 1-25

Chanchal Kumar Sharma and Wilfried Swenden (2017), 'Continuity and Change in Contemporary Indian Federalism' in Chanchal Kumar Sharma and Wilfried Swenden, eds., Special Issue, Continuity and Change in Indian Federalism, India Review, vol.16, (1), 1-13

Wilfried Swenden and Rekha Saxena (2017), 'Rethinking Central Planning. a Federal Critique of the Planning Commission' in Chanchal Kumar Sharma and Wilfried Swenden, ads., Special Issue, Continuity and Change in Indian Federalism, India Review, vol.16, (1),  42-65

Wilfried Swenden (2016), 'Centre-State Bargaining and Territorial Accommodation: Evidence from India' in Hechter, M., Mueller, S. and Siroky, D., eds., 'Federalism, Nationalism and Democracy', special issue, Swiss Political Science Review4, 491-515

Wilfried Swenden (2016), 'Centre-State Relations in India: Contemporary Issues and Challenges' in The Territories and States of India 2016, Europe Territories of the World, 3rd edition (London: Routledge), 14-28 

Wilfried Swenden (2016), 'India and the unfinished business of accommodating ethnic diversity' in Gorringe, H., Jeffery, R. and Waghmore S, eds., Institutionalizating Marginal Practices in South Asia. Processes, Practicies, Politcies and Pitfalls (Delhi: Sage), 245-80

Wilfried Swenden (2015). 'Belgium and the Crisis of Governability 2007-2011. Rebooting Territorial Pluralism?' in Basta, K., McGarry, J. and Simeon, R. eds., Territorial Pluralism. Managing Difference in Multinational States' (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press), 196-219.

Wilfried Swenden and Nicole Bolleyer (2014), eds., Regional Mobilization in the New Europe, Regional and Federal Studies, 24, (3), (special issue, with introduction and conclusion), pp. 249-262; pp. 383-399, based on ESRC seminar-series

Nicole Bolleyer, Wilfried Swenden and Nicola McEwen (2014), eds, The Dynamics of Multi-Level Systems, Comparative European Politics, 12, (4-5), (special issue with introduction and conclusion), 367-383 and 531-555; based on ESRC seminar series

Wilfried Swenden and Nicola McEwen (2014), 'UK devolution in the shadow of hierarchy? Intergovernmental Relations and Party Politics', Comparative European Politics, 12, (4-5), 488-509

Wilfried Swenden and Simon Toubeau, 'Mainstream Parties and Territorial Dynamics in the UK, Spain and India' in Arthur Benz and Jorg Broschek, eds., Federal Dynamics, Continuity, Change and Varieties of Federalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 249-74

Liselotte Libbrecht, Bart Maddens and Wilfried Swenden, 'Party Competition in Regional Elections. The strategies of statewide parties in Spain and the United Kingdom', Party Politics, 19, (2013), 4, 624-640

Anastasia Obydenkova and Wilfried Swenden, 'Autocracy-Sustaining vs Democratic Federalism. Explaining Divergent trajectories of Territorial Politics in Russia and Western Europe', Territory, Politics, Governance, 1, 1, (2013), 86-122

Elodie Fabre and Wilfried Swenden, 'Territorial Politics and the Statewide Party', Regional Studies, 47, (2013), 3, 342-55

John Loughlin, John Kincaid and Wilfried Swenden, eds. Routledge Handbook of Federalism and Regionalism (London: Routledge, 2013), 622pp. 

Wilfried Swenden, 'Territorial Strategies for Managing Plurinational States' in John Loughlin, John Kincaid and Wilfried Swenden, eds. Routledge Handbook of Federalism and Regionalism (London: Routledge, 2013), 61-75

Wilfried Swenden, 'Conclusion: the Future of Belgian federalism. Between Reform and Swansong' in Deschouwer, K and Reuchamps, M. eds, The future of Belgian Federalism, Special Issue, Regional and Federal Studies, 23, (2013), 3, 369-382  

Wilfried Swenden, 'Review Article - The territorial and Non-territorial Management of Ethnic Diversity in South Asia', Regional & Federal Studies, 22, (2012), 5, 613-632

Nicola McEwen, Wilfried Swenden and Nicole Bolleyer, 'Intergovernmental Relations in the UK. Continuity in a time of Change?' in Nicola McEwen, Wilfried Swenden and Nicole Bolleyer, eds., Governments in Opposition? Intergovernmental Relations in the UK in a context of party political incongruence, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14, (2012),2, 323-343

Nicola McEwen, Wilfried Swenden and Nicole Bolleyer, 'Introduction: Political Opposition in a Multi-Level Context' in Nicola McEwen, Wilfried Swenden and Nicole Bolleyer, eds., Governments in Opposition? Intergovernmental Relations in the UK in a context of party political incongruence, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14, (2012), 2, 187-197

Wilfried Swenden, 'The European Union and the competence catalogue after the Lisbon Treaty. Insights from Comparative Federalism' in Rekha Saxena, eds., Varieties of Federal Governance . Major Contemporary Models (Delhi: Foundation books/Cambridge University Press, 2011), 467-93

Wilfried Swenden, 'The Belgian Regions and the European Union: Unintended partners in unravelling the Belgian state?' in Jones, R.W and Scully, R. eds. Regionalism and Constitutionalism in an Enlarged European Union (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010), 16-34

Wilfried Swenden, 'Why Belgian federalism is not more asymmetrical' in Ferran Requejo and Klaus-Jürgen Nagel, eds. Federalism Beyond Federations: Asymmetry and Processes of Re-Symmetrization in Europe (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), 13-36

Wilfried Swenden, 'Subnational participation in national decisions: the role of second chambers' in Enderlein, Henrik, Sonja Wälti, and Michael Zürn (Eds.): Handbook on Multi-Level Governance. (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2010), 103-23

Wilfried Swenden, 'Beyond UK Exceptionalism? Comparing Strategies for Territorial Management' in Klaus Stolz, ed. Ten Years of Devolution in the United Kingdom. Snapshots at a Moving Target (Augsburg: Wißner Verlag, 2010), 13-35

Jan Erk and Wilfried Swenden, eds., New Directions in Federalism Studies (London: Routledge, 2010)

Wilfried Swenden and Bart Maddens, eds. Territorial Party Politics in Western Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2009)

Marleen Brans, Lieven De Winter and Wilfried Swenden, eds., The Politics of Belgium, Institutions and Policy under bipolar and centrifugal federalism, (London: Routledge, 2009; first published as special issue of West European Politics, (29), 5, 2006

Liselotte Libbrecht, Bart Maddens, Wilfried Swenden and Elodie Fabre, 'Issue salience in regional elections in Spain', European Journal of Political Research, 48, (2009), 1, 58-79

Wilfried Swenden, 'Schottland in Europa: Mit oder ohnes Vereinigtes Königreich?' in Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Martin Große Hüttman, eds., Europapolitik und Europafaehigkeit van Regionen, (Nomos: Baden-Baden, 2009), 101-122 [in German]

Earlier publications include

Wilfried Swenden, Federalism and Regionalism in Western Europe : a comparative and thematic analysis (Basingstoke : Palgrave 2006). A Japanese translation with a new preface was published in 2010

Wilfried Swenden, Federalism and Second Chambers: Regional representation in parliamentary federations. The German Bundesrat and Australian Senate Compared (Brussels : PIE-Peter Lang, Federalism and Regionalism Series, No.2)

W. Swenden and M.T. Jans (2006), 'Will it Stay or will it Go? Federalism and the Sustainability of Belgium', West European Politics, vol.29 (5), 2006, 877-894;

Robertas Pogorelis, Bart Maddens, Wilfried Swenden and Elodie Fabre , (2005) 'Issue Salience in Regional and National Party Manifestoes in the UK ', West European Politics , vol.28, no.3, 992-1014

Wilfried Swenden (2005), 'What - if anything - can the European Union learn from Belgian federalism and vice versa?' Regional and Federal Studies, vol.15, no.2, pp. 187-205

Wilfried Swenden (2004), 'Is the European Union in need of a Competence Catalogue? Insights from Comparative Federalism', Journal of Common Market Studies , 42, (2), pp. 371-392.

Wilfried Swenden (2002), 'Asymmetric Federalism and Coalition-Making in Belgium', Publius: the Journal of Federalism , vol.32, No.3, pp. 67-87


Research interests

Research interests

  • Comparative federalism and territorial politics
  • Intergovernmental relations in multi-level states
  • Organization and strategy of parties in a multi-level setting
  • Institutional engineering for divided societies, especially in South Asia 
  • centre-state relations in India and Indian party politics

Research day


Research supervision

Wilfried welcomes PhD proposals on (1) the territorial dimension of party politics, especially in India (2) constitutional reform and intergovernmental relations in multi-level polities (3) the capacity of federalism or regionalism to regulate conflict in divided societies and its comparison with other conflict regulating institutions for divided societies (particularly in South Asia) 

If you are interested in being supervised by Wilfried Swenden, please see the links below (open in new windows) for more information:

Staff Hours and Guidance

Guidance and Feedback Hours

Monday: 2-4 pm (via MS Teams) 

Research Day