Crises require fast responses by the state, no matter whether they follow from natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or the spread of diseases. Motivated by this rational, most constitutions equip their executives with extensive competencies to cope with emergency situations, so that governments can react on short notice and in a flexible manner. While the measures taken by governments to address the COVID-19 outbreak currently receive a lot of media attention, it is far less visible how parliaments respond to these special circumstances. However, legislatures have the right and obligation to hold governments accountable in ordinary and extraordinary times. In this blog contribution, I therefore explore how representatives have been overseeing the government in the COVID-19 crisis during the last weeks.… Read More Business as usual? The COVID-19 crisis in German state legislatures
Do male and female MPs face dissimilar levels and types of uncivil behavior on twitter? Previous research focusing on high-profile politicians conclude that women suffer higher levels of online harassment than their male colleagues. To provide a broader picture of online incivility, Southern and Harmer study the experience of less prominent House of Commons members in their recent publication. The authors make use of around 117,000 tweets to ordinary UK MPs who are not amongst the top 50 most followed in a time span of 14 days in April 2018. They manually coded all tweets and found that around 10 percent of the messages can be deemed generally uncivil.… Read More Literature Review: An Analysis of Tweets Sent to UK Members of Parliament
In his recently published article in the American Journal of Political Science, George Ward suggests that it is necessary for politicians and researchers to look ‘beyond GDP’ to understand why and when citizens vote for sitting governments. Studies engaging with economic voting show that a good economy leads to higher chances of re-election. Ward now directs our attention to the influence of happiness in this context: Do high levels of national happiness enhance the probability of re-election of an incumbent government, and can individual well-being explain vote intentions?… Read More Happiness and Voting: Evidence from Four Decades of Elections in Europe
To Members of the European Parliament, the position of a committee chair is more appealing than any other posts in the EP (e.g. McElroy, 2006). Representatives in these positions can shape proceedings, they influence cohesion and coherence and can affect the committee’s output substantially (Hix, 1999). Additionally, leadership positions provide opportunities to influence legislation and significantly affects visibility since the position of a committee chair is a strong predictor for speech-making in the plenary (Greene and Cross, 2017). However, irrespective of this importance for practitioners, little academic work has analyzed committee chair allocation in the EP (Chiru, 2019) and the role of gender has been completely disregarded thus far. As a result, in this blog post, I look into the factors at the European and member state level that enable women to become committee chairs in the European Parliament between 1979 and 2019.… Read More Are women gaining ground? The allocation of committee chairs in the European Parliament
Are women’s experiences as party leaders different from those of men ask O’Neill, Prusysers and Stewart in their recently published article in Political Studies. The authors expect that female party leaders stay shorter in office than their male colleagues for two reasons: the glass cliff phenomenon and the role incongruity of prejudice. First, parties tend to choose women for leadership positions in times of crisis and thus when the risk of failing is high. Second, once women make it to leadership positions they are assumed to be confronted with suspicion, more negative assessments of their qualities and higher electoral expectation than male leaders. The reason why women face more pressure derives from incongruity between the expectations how women should act according to gender stereotypes (e.g. communal) and how leaders should behave (e.g. confident, assertive). Once women do not follow their traditional role and become party leaders, they are subjected to prejudices and harsher judgements by party elites.… Read More Literature Review: Examining Gender and Party Leader Tenures and Exits
In representative democratic systems, parties should be responsive to the wishes of the people according to normative claims. In fact, empirical research shows that public opinion has a strong though far from deterministic impact on public policy (Page and Shapiro 1983; Rasmussen et al. 2018). Beyond the perspective of voters, parties should be responsible to take up issues that are – from an objective perspective – important for society. That means that even if the gold standard of democracy is that parties and governments respond to the wishes of the people, they should react to objective challenges.
Environmental degradation is such a challenge for any society. We know that environmental degradation has major impacts on societies and some even argue that whole civilizations disappeared because of sneaking – often not well understood or ignored – environmental degradation (Hughes 1994). Above all, highly industrialized democracies face increasing pressure from environmental degradation. However, thus far, only little research is devoted to how and under which circumstances political parties respond to these objective concerns (Adams et al. 2009; Haupt 2010). In this analysis, we focus on the impact of environmental degradation on the position of political parties. Is there a systematic trend that parties adjust their programmatic positions to changes in environmental degradation and which role to electoral institutions play?… Read More Environmental Degradation and Party Movements
If a woman takes over a certain ministry in a cabinet, the speech rate of female representatives on issues belonging to her resort increases approximately 23 percent. This impressive figure is presented by Blumenau in a recent publication in the British Journal of Political Science which investigates parliamentary speech-making in the British House of Commons between 1997 and 2017. This research is breaking new ground by revealing how ministers’ gender impacts not only the participation but also the influence of female members of parliament on their colleagues.… Read More Literature Review: The Effects of Female Leadership on Women’s Voice in Political Debate