London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Monica Threlfall

Reader in European Politics


BA Hons. Oxford University;

Background and Career
Research Interests and Activities
Doctoral Supervision & Postgrad Support
Recent Publications and Papers

MA Politics, Leeds University;
PhD Loughborough University.

Contact Details

Institute for the Study of European Transformations (ISET)
London Metropolitan University
Room TM1-70
166-220 Holloway Road
London N7 8DB
Office Landline + 44 (0) 20 7133 2173

Background and career

I joined ISET in 2009 after holding posts as a Politics lecturer at Loughborough (1996-2008) and at South Bank (1986-1995), and as a research fellow at Birkbeck College Politics & Sociology Department. Previously I taught at the American universities' campus in Madrid, and worked as the coordinator of the Pablo Iglesias Foundation think tank. As a recent graduate, I worked as a research assistant at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House, London), and at the Catholic U. of Santiago and U. Los Andes, Bogotá, before going back into postgraduate studies.

For my early jobs in Colombia and Chile I was dispatched to find shanty-town residents and community leaders to interview about their housing and urban infrastructure problems. It was meetings these inspiring people that really sparked my interest in research, in civil society organisations, and in bottom-up or grass-roots perspectives on political phenomena.


Research interests

The main theme in my research has been the relationship between less privileged groups of citizens, especially women, and their state -- as this manifests itself in contestation by social movements, protest group pressure for policy reform, voting preferences, political disaffection, and demands for representation -- together with their corresponding institutional responses.
Examples are: 

  • 'People's power' movements in Chile during the years of Allende's Popular Unity government: how grass-roots initiatives around housing, food distribution and factory occupations linked workers with residents' associations from local neighbourhoods, into alternative organisations to municipal government. (eg. Allende's Chile)
  • The Spanish women's movement during the last years of the Franco dictatorship and the democratisation process from 1975 onwards (eg. New Left Review 1985; Gendering Spanish Democracy 2004).

  • The role of civil society organisations in pushing the authoritarian regime into conceding democracy (see Democratization, 2008; in Spanish: Conflicto y consenso en la transición española 2009)

  • Socialist-feminist women's movements in the Northern Hemisphere and their engagement with the state and public policy (eg. Mapping the Women's Movement 1996).
  • The factors that hold back women from getting ahead in politics; how women's movements in the 1990s won acceptance of the principle of gender equality in elective posts and of the need for more women in parliament (eg. Comparative European Politics, 2007).
  • How policy- and reform-oriented work by feminist advocates and movements, after notching up mould-breaking legal changes, can then claim to have altered the course of political history during a given period. (eg.El movimiento feminista en España en los años 70, 2009).
  • How civil society organisations and individuals can ensure that international social rights régimes are enforced (see 2010 book under Chapters)

My research on Spain led me to become Editor of the International Journal of Iberian Studies for 6 years (

A second broad area of my research has been the social politics of the European Union, where I have worked on several linked themes:

  • The social dimension of the integration process, particularly explaining the EU's adoption of social and gender policies over time.
  • Formulating better interpretations of comparative employment and unemployment figures and stats.
  • Forms of social integration between the societies of the member-states of the EU
  • The EU's employment strategy.
  • The regulation and enforcement of social rights in the EU in comparison with the Council of Europe's European Social Charter regime.

In the last few years I have focused on political representation issues:

  • Citizens' and their representation: 'Feeling represented? Citizens' perspectives on their political representation with particular regard to their gender, ethnicity, and nationality' contributes to the public concern with political disaffection and ordinary citizens' feelings of lacking representation. It aimed to fill a void of research on 'bottom-up' views of the representation process. Fieldwork was carried out in Poland, Spain and Macedonia as well as the UK.
  • Political Citizenship: I was a Principal Investigator and WorkPackage leader on Political Citizenship for the EU FP6-funded IP project Gendered Citizenship in a Multicultural Europe: the Impact of Women's Movements (FEMCIT, approx.€4m), which integrated a gendered approach to recognized dimensions of citizenship such as political, social and economic, with more recent insights on multicultural, bodily/sexual, and intimate citizenship. FEMCIT's brief was to identify issues at the intersections of gender and ethnicity that remain problematic, both for positing a normative notion of full citizenship and for designing policies that facilitate the conditions for the equal enjoyment of citizenship by women and men.
  • Electoral reform:
    Critiques of the present Westminster system, and of the Alternative Vote;
    Discussion of the goals of any electoral reform in Britain and in the increasingly diverse European societies of the 21st century;
    Design of a new electoral systems to combine the most effective features of Multi-Member Proportional Representation and Single-Member Plurality/FPTP.

For my recent activites, see ISET home page LATEST NEWS /research-units/iset/index.cfm


Doctoral Supervision & Postgrad Support

I am interested in supervising doctoral candidates wishing to develop a research project in the areas mentioned above, such as democratisation processes; social and citizenship policies of the European Union; gender and politics topics; and relations between parliamentarians and constituents.
Visiting Research Students with relevant interests are welcome.

Recent Publications and Papers

Briefings, Working Papers and Reports:

(2012) Taxation without representation, how much does it hurt-3.pdf

(2011) Working Paper 22: Citizens' preferences for their political representation: A qualitative study of the UK, Spain, Poland and Macedonia WP22

(2011) AV and Women: Can more women be elected to the Houes of Commons?  Electoral Reform Briefing Nr.3, April 2011

(2010) Marrying First-Past-the-Post with Proportional Representation: The Alternative to the Alternative Vote, Electoral Reform Briefing Nr.2, September 2010, AND (2010) New Electoral System Implementation Guide

(2010) What's wrong with the Alternative Vote.pdf, Electoral Briefing Nr.1, November 2010 

(2010) Ten Goals and One Solution for Westminster Electoral Reform, or How to Wed Constituency Links with PR WP16

(2009) Europe's social situation: towards a more inclusive view. ISET-CSIG Conference Report, with contributions from Pav Akhtar, Muhammad Abdul Bari MBE, FRSA, Fran Bennett, Gordon Conochie, Graham Corbett CBE, Mary Daly, Eleonore Kofman, Annette Lawson OBE, Claire Wallace. Europe's Social Situation
A call to those seeking a comprehensive understanding of Europe’s social situation, to better reflect Europe's diversity and the claims of numerically significant social sectors such as women, carers, ethnic minorities, disabled people, Muslims, low-income workers and migrants, particularly in Eastern parts of the European Union. Their difficult situations, as shown by the UK stakeholders contributing here, are too often excluded from the general picture. The report includes a model for creating an alternative portrait of Europe that gathers all people into the frame on the basis of their diverse activities and inter-relations of conflict and care.


(2012) 'Feminism and the State, a love-hate relationship?, Fabiana (Magazine of the Fabian Women's Network) issue 2, pp. 8-9. Fabiana 2

(2011) 'WHAT’S HOLDING US BACK: The two main obstacles to women’s full political representation', Fabiana (Magazine of the Fabian Women's Network) issue 1, pp.6-7. Fabiana 1

(2010) The purpose of electoral reform for Westminster, Political Quarterly, Vol 81, Nr.4, December

(2008) ‘Reassessing the role of civil society organisations in the transition to democracy in Spain’, in Democratization, Vol.15, Issue 5, pp.930-951.

(2007) 'Explaining gender parity representation in Spain: the internal dynamics of parties'. West European Politics, Vol. 30/5, pp. 1068 – 1095.

(2007) 'The social dimension of the European Union: innovative ways of advancing integration', Global Social Policy Vol. 2007 Issue 3, pp.271-293 (Special Issue on Social Policies in Regional Integration).


(2010) 'State feminism or party feminism? Feminist politics and the Spanish Institute of Women' in Mona Lena Krook and Sarah Childs, eds, Women, Gender and Politics: A Reader, New York: OUP, pp. 327-333.

(2010) 'Social policies and rights in the European Union and the Council of Europe: exhortation, regulation and enforcement', in World-Regional Social Policy and Global Governance, ed. by Bob Deacon, Maria Cristina Macovei, Luk Van Langenhove, and Nicola Y eates, Abingdon: Routledge.

(2009) 'The transformative role of women's movements in the Spanish political transition' (in Spanish), in C. Martínez Ten, & P. Gutiérrez, eds, El movimiento feminista en España en los años 70, Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra, pp.17-52.

(2009) 'Reassessing the role of civil society organisations in the transition to democracy' (in Spanish) in G. Gómez Bravo (ed.) Conflicto y consenso en la transición española, Madrid: Editorial Pablo Iglesias, pp.155-196.


(2005) Gendering Spanish Democracy, London: Routledge. Main author, with C. Cousins and C Valiente

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