On sabbatical 2023-2024.

I am a Professor in the Department of Political Science at The Pennsylvania State University. I also hold a Professor II position in the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen (2022 – 2025). I received my Ph.D. from New York University. I had previously studied at Sciences Po (l’Institut d’études politiques de Paris) and the University of Chicago.

photo of Sona Golder

I study political institutions, with a particular interest in coalition formation. My early research and first book, The Logic of Pre-Electoral Coalition Formation, examines the determinants and consequences of electoral alliances in parliamentary democracies. My most recent book is about Multi-level Electoral Politics, and I’ve also published two textbook with a couple of colleagues, Principles of Comparative Politics and Foundations of Comparative Politics. Much of my work focuses on advanced industrialized democracies in Europe but my graduate students have pushed me in other directions as well, particularly looking at political behavior, gender, and other regions of the world.

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Along with Raimondas Ibenskas (PI, University of Bergen), Allan Sikk (co-PI, University College London), and Paulina Salek-Lipcean (post-doc, University of Bergen), I am working on a project on Party Instability in Parliaments, or INSTAPARTY that is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (project no. 325141, 2021-2025). We begin with a consideration of elected representatives, who are widely expected to remain affiliated with the political parties that got them elected. However, party switching in parliaments is common, if not endemic, in both established and young democracies. By changing their affiliation, elected representatives create party instability: new parties form, existing parties dissolve, and the size of parties in parliament changes. Party instability may have important effects on election and government formation outcomes, public policy and voter representation. This project examines party instability in parliaments in European democracies. It has three objectives: to map out diverse forms of instability, to explain why instability occurs, and to understand whether and how instability affects voter support of parties.

In addition to having served as a co-editor for the British Journal of Political Science, I am an associate editor for Research & Politics, and serve on the editorial boards for the American Journal of Political Science and Political Science Research and Methods. I am a co-editor for a new series, the Oxford Politics of Institutions Series, for Oxford University Press. I have also been involved in the women in methods group – I was the organizer and host for the 4th Annual Visions in Methodology (VIM) Conference, served as a VIM mentor for female graduate students and junior faculty, and served as a member of the diversity committee for APSA’s Political Methodology Section. My research has previously been funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Research Council through my participation in the Making Electoral Democracy Work project, and I have also benefited from time spent at the University of Mannheim with the Political Economy of Reforms project.