Inizio contenuto principale del sito


Kevin Koehler is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa. His research focuses on politics and security in the Middle East and North Africa with an emphasis on political elites, regime change, and civil-military relations. Kevin is part of the Security, Politics, and International Relations (SPIRE) research area and a member of the board of the MSc in International Security Studies (MISS)

Kevin is the principal investigator of the ERC-funded Political Elites and Regime Change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA-PERC) project which investigates the dynamics of elite change in Egypt, Tunisia, and Turkey over the past century.

Before joining Sant’Anna, Kevin held positions at Leiden University, the NATO Defense College, the American University in Cairo, as well as the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Kevin holds a PhD and MRes from the European University Institute in Florence as well as an MA degree from the University of Tübingen. His work has appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Security Studies, International Studies Quarterly, Democratization, Mediterranean Politics and other journals.



  • Comparative politics and security in the MENA
  • Autocracy
  • Political elites and regime change
  • Civil-military relations and military coups (see the Coup Agency and Mechanisms data set)
  • Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey



MENA-PERC project


Three logos


The MENA-PERC project is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant  (Grant ID: 101044015). 

Whether political elites accommodate or exclude their rivals during regime crises can be a matter of life and death. Following the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), elite compromise sustained a fragile democratic transition in Tunisia, while elite conflict triggered a coup in Egypt. Tunisia has since seen three democratic elections, but has experienced democratic breakdown in 2021. Why do elites in some cases pursue accommodation while they push for excluding their rivals in others?

MENA-PERC proposes an answer to this puzzle: the degrees of asymmetry and polarization between regime coalitions and their challengers shape elite preferences for accommodation or exclusion. These preferences, in turn, determine the type of regime emerging from crisis. Regime coalitions comprise elites who provide crucial links to social constituencies and whose collective support stabilizes the regime. The project theorizes the role of these actors, linking macrolevel outcomes in terms of regime types to evidence on the microlevel of individual elites.

The project draws on evidence from 13 regime spells in three MENA countries across more than a century. Regime coalitions are identified by focusing on members of parliament in Egypt (1882-present), Tunisia (1907-present), and Turkey (1908-present), observing processes of elite change empirically based on individual-level data on these elite members and leveraging these data in a mixed-methods design. Second, the project traces causal mechanism through elite surveys and in-depth fieldwork examining authoritarian consolidation in contemporary Egypt, democratization and democratic breakdown in Tunisia, and democratic backsliding in Turkey. The project makes three contributions. It theorizes why elites accommodate or exclude during regime crises; it pioneers an innovative way of testing this model by observing elite change over time; and it traces the model’s causal mechanisms in ongoing processes of regime change.


Team Members:

  1. Camille Abescat (postdoc)
  2. Théo Blanc (postdoc)
  3. Dafne Carletti (project manager)
  4. Lorenzo Fruganti (PhD student)
  5. Berker Kavasoglu (postdoc)
  6. Julius Strunk (PhD student)




2023/24 academic year:

  • The Politics of Democratic Backsliding and Autocracy (joint PhD program with SNS, Semester 1)
  • Parties and Elites: Old and New Challenges (with Edoardo Bressanelli, Semester 1)
  • The Dynamics of Non-Democratic Regimes (Semester 2)
  • The Middle East and Africa: Transformations and Challenges (MSc in International Security Studies, Semester 2)