Catarina Leão

Postdoctoral Fellow - AxPo

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Sciences Po, Paris. I hold a D.Phil in Politics from the University of Oxford. My research interests lie in the fields of Political Economy and Comparative Politics. I focus on two main areas: authoritarian politics and legacies, and democratisation-related issues.

In my doctoral project, I developed a top-down rational choice approach to determine how legacies of autocratic regimes shape extremism after transitions to democracy. I am broadly interested in the economic legacies of autocracies, who gets to democratize and why, economic and material autocratic stabilisation mechanisms, threats to advanced democracies from an elite perspective, how the abundance of information affects rational voting decisions, European politics, and electoral behaviour. Methodologically, I’m interested in quantitative methods, and quasi-experimental designs.

I have previously briefly worked in journalism and consultancy. I read for an MA in Governance, Leadership and Democracy Studies (Summa cum laude) at the Institute for Political Studies of the Catholic University of Portugal, with a full scholarship awarded by the Fundação Oriente. I hold a B.Sc. in Business Administration from Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics.

Research project:

AxPo Project 

Teachings (previous / current):

  • 2021/2022 and 2019/2020: Comparative Political Economy (230) tutorials to PPE undergraduate students at the University of Oxford.
  • 2019/2020: Comparative Government (201) tutorials to PPE undergraduate students at the University of Oxford.
  • 2019/2020: Introduction to the Practice of Politics (Politics Prelims) tutorials to PPE and Politics and Historyundergraduate students at the University of Oxford.


Work in progress:

Book Manuscript

- Autocratic Legacies and Immunisation Against Extremism: A Rational Choice Approach

Working Papers

- Democratic Selection and the Role of Economic Clout
- Land Inequality and the Origins of Neo-Fascism in Post-War Italy
- Autocratic Legacies and Party Success: A Material Benefits Approach
- Measuring the Impact of Indoctrination and Welfare Redistribution in Autocratic Regimes (with Barbara Piotrowska)
- Economic Scarcity and Post-Transitional Extremism: Analysing Protests and Socio-Political Dynamics
- Legacies of Redistribution and the Emergence of Political Polarisation

Conferences (recent ones)

  • 2023. American Political Science Association (APSA) Meeting, Los Angeles. Paper Presentation 2022. European Political Science Association (EPSA) Meeting, Prague. Paper Presentation
  • 2022. Quantitative Political Economy Research Group (QPE) Annual Workshop of King’s College London, London. Paper Presentation
  • 2020. European Political Science Association (EPSA) Virtual Meeting. Paper Presentation
  • 2019. American Political Science Association (APSA) Meeting, Washington D.C. Paper Presentation
  • 2019. European Political Science Association (EPSA) Meeting, Belfast. Paper Presentation
  • 2018. DPhil Politics/IR Graduate Seminar. Paper Presentation
  • 2018. Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Meeting, Chicago. Paper Presentation
  • 2017. Department of Politics and IR Colloquium, Oxford. Paper Presentation
  • 2017. NOVA University of Lisbon ”State Budget, Economics and Democracy” Conference, Lisbon. Book Section Presentation
  • 2017. King’s College ”Totalitarianism and the Open Society” Symposium, London. Roundtable Discussant
  • 2017. Wolfson College’s ”President’s Seminar”, Oxford. Paper Presentation

Prizes and awards (if any)

  • FCT Research Fellowship, DPhil Tuition Fees plus living costs. Awarded by FCT, the Portuguese national funding agency for science, 2017 to 2022
  • APSA 2019 Travel Grant: APSA Conference Funding, May 2019
  • Henry the Navigator Award by the Institute of Political Studies IEP-UCP, February 2019. Santander Academic Travel Award, March 2018
  • Wolfson College Travel Grant Award, May 2019, March 2018, June 2017. (£400 each) Wolfson College Fee Bursary, June 2017
  • Norman Chester Funds Grant Award, September 2017
  • Master of Arts Full Scholarship. Awarded by The Fundacao Oriente, 2013-2014
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