Peter Mair (1951 – 2011) studied history and politics at University College Dublin.
During the 1980s, he was an assistant professor at the universities of Limerick, Strathclyde, Manchester and European University Institute, and in 1987, was awarded his doctorate by Leiden University for his thesis, The Changing Irish Party System, today regarded as a standard work on the subject.
Mair continued to work at Leiden University, becoming professor of comparative politics in 1994. In 2001 he became co-editor of the journal West European Politics.
In 2005 Mair rejoined the EUI as professor of comparative politics and government. There, he pursued research into democracy, indifference and populist parties, including the study of party systems and representation, and changes in the nature and functioning of democracy in developed societies in Europe.
Mair published extensively. His books include: Representative Government in Modern Europe: Institutions, Parties, and Governments (with Michael Gallagher and Michael Lever; MacGraw-Hill, New York, 5th edition 2011); Political Parties and Electoral Change: Party Responses to Electoral Markets, (with Wolfgang Müller and Fritz Plasser; Sage, London, 2004); The Enlarged European Union: Diversity and Adaptation; (with Jan Zielonka; Frank Cass, London, 2002); Party System Change: approaches and interpretations, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997); Identity, Competition, and Electoral Availability: the stabilisation of European electorates 1885-1985, (with Stefano Bartolini, head of the EUI’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences; ECPR Press, 2007) which received the ISSC/Unesco Stein Rokkan Prize.