Dreadful news has just reached me from Florence of the sudden and untimely death of Peter Mair, Professor of Comparative Politics at the European University Institute, whilst on a family holiday in his native Ireland. Peter was an assistant professor at the EUI when I was a PhD researcher there and was already making a name for himself, concentrating on parties and party systems. He went on to win the Stein Rokkan prize (with Stefano Bartolini) and published several seminal works on party systems and party system change. He became Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Leiden and editor of West European Politics, before returning to the EUI in 2005. Peter’s untimely death is a terrible loss to the EUI, where he had become a much-respected eminence grise, to political science and to the broader world of political commentary (I particularly enjoyed his occasional journalistic forays), just as he was reaching the sort of learned maturity that enabled him to make his characteristically incisive analyses both highly entertaining and seemingly effortless. (Just last November I cited his essay on the importance of the absence of an opposition in the EU in my John Fitzmaurice Memorial Lecture and I was toying with the idea of inviting him to co-edit a collection of articles on that theme.) At the personal level, Peter was a friendly and supportive man of great charm and with a mischievously quirky wit. All my sympathies go to his wife and three children. It is a grievous and tragic loss.