Eulogy for Prof Dennis C. Spies

22 June 2021

Prof Dennis Christopher Spies was a full professor of political economy at Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf. After having obtained a PhD and Habilitation from the University of Cologne and having worked as assistant professor there, he became associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark at Odense for a year and then took up a prestigious Heisenberg professorship, co-funded by the German Research Foundation, in Düsseldorf in 2020.
Dennis had three main topics of expertise: comparative party politics in Europe, especially Populist and Radical Right Parties (e.g. Spies/Franzmann 2011), the nexus between immigration and welfare state in advanced industrial economies (e.g. Spies 2018) and the voting behaviour of immigrant-origin citizens in Germany (e.g. Spies/Goerres/Mayer 2020). Dennis was particularly strong at synthesising theoretical work from different traditions, translating empirical findings into clear text and framing the overall argument. Thereby, he was well equipped to collaborate successfully with a multitude of scholars.
Dennis Spies was the first of his family to go to university. He grew up in the German Lower Rhineland in Willich, the only child of a kindergarten teacher and a bar owner. Throughout his adult life, he maintained an admirably broad network of friends from all walks of life and could communicate well with anyone, regardless of social status. At his farewell party in Cologne in 2019, scientists, students, gym and bar acquaintances, childhood friends and former co-students mingled merrily.
With taking up the professorship in Düsseldorf in 2020, Dennis had accomplished his dream to become a tenured professor close to his parents while being able to live in his beloved Cologne, a city where he lived for almost 20 years.
Dennis Christopher Spies passed away unexpectedly on 19 June 2021 aged 40. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends as well as by all of his collaborators, colleagues and students.

Jonas Elis, Achim Goerres & Sabrina J. Mayer

19 June 2023

On 9 July 2021, we bid Dennis’ urn a last farewell at Willich Cemetery where his remnants rest with those of his grandparents. The funeral was still highly regulated because of Covid, and not everyone could attend.

Dennis loved Johnny Cash among others. So the family played this cover “Hurt” by Johnny Cash to the mourners (original by Nine Inch Nails).

Hurt on Youtube

Hurt on Spotify

Dennis’ Citations

Google Scholar Page Dennis Spies


Spies, Dennis C. /Franzmann, Simon T. (2011): A Two-Dimensional Approach to the Political Opportunity Structure of Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, West European Politics, 34:5, 1044-1069, DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2011.591096

Spies, Dennis C, (2018): Immigration and Welfare State Retrenchment: Why the US Experience is not Reflected in Western Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spies, Dennis C. /Mayer, Sabrina J. /Goerres, Achim (2020): What are we missing? Explaining Immigrant-Origin Voter Turnout with Standard and Immigrant-Specific Theories, Electoral Studies, 102103,

back to project page Immigrant German Election Study