I learnt today of the 19 December death of Karlheinz Reif, a German political scientist and later a colleague in the European Commission. I first met him in Florence, where he was a visiting professor at the EUI, through my thesis supervisor, Rudolf Wildenmann; the Mannheim connection, in other words. Born in the French-occupied zone of Western Germany, Reif had three great specialisations: French party politics, multi-level electoral systems, and popular support for the European integration process. Academically pugnacious and intellectually arrogant at first sight, he was in fact a kindly and friendly man, generous with sage advice, with the urbane cheerfulness of a Berliner and, though a lifelong trans-Atlanticist (he was a Fulbright scholar at Stanford) with a profound commitment to European integration. In his twilight years in the Commission (he was beset by ill health) there was nothing he enjoyed more than a wide-ranging discussion over lunch with a fellow political scientist and political anorak. I had first come across him academically because of a seminal 1980 article he had written, together with Hermann Schmitt, about the first direct elections to the European Parliament (later published as Nine Second-Order National Elections – A Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of European Election Results). Though he wrote much about French politics and European opinion polling, the concept of second order national elections became a sort of albatross, primarily because his analysis was spot-on and still, in my opinion, applies fully. In the European Commission he transformed the Eurobarometer opinion poll from an arcane and relatively elitist instrument into a mainstream policy-making tool. An academic at heart, he never found the bureaucratic and hierarchical ways of the Commission easy but he nevertheless bequeathed a modern opinion polling instrument and should be remembered for that and (I hear him gritting his teeth in some celestical seminar room) for his perhaps eternal insight about second-order national elections.