Are women gaining ground? The allocation of committee chairs in the European Parliament

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

Literature Review: Examining Gender and Party Leader Tenures and Exits

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

Environmental Degradation and Party Movements

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

Literature Review: The Effects of Female Leadership on Women’s Voice in Political Debate

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

What do governing parties in Germany talk about in their coalition agreements?

Governance in multi-level settings is complicated. Most parties do not only compete against each other at the national level but also at the regional, the local or even the European level (see e.g. Braun and Schmitt, forthcoming; Gross and Jankowski, 2020; Müller, 2013). To complicate matters even further, parties do not stop at policy signalling after elections, but they write coalition agreements if they are able to enter government after successful coalition negotiations. While previous research analysed the length and comprehensiveness of coalition agreements extensively (see e.g. Bowler et al., 2016; Eichorst, 2014; Indridason and Kristinsson, 2013; Krauss, 2018), the specific challenges of coalition agreements in multi-level settings have so far been neglected. When writing coalition agreements, the parties have at least two options to choose from when deciding what to include in the joint contract. On the one hand, they can include those topics that are relevant and salient for their voters. On the other hand, they can also consider the political environment they bargain in. In our recent article in German Politics, we concentrate on the latter option and ask: Which topics do governing parties cover in their coalition agreements in multi-level settings?… Read More What do governing parties in Germany talk about in their coalition agreements?

Literature Review: The Evaluation Bias Against High-Income Congressional Candidates

Previous research has indicated that voters’ assessment of politicians is shaped by various personal determinants like gender, ethnic affiliation, the level of education and occupational status. In their recent work, Griffin et al. further analyze whether the income of congressional candidates impacts voters’ evaluations. Building on earlier work from stereotyping studies the authors hypothesize that the perception of a candidate changes with the level of their income. On the one hand, people might believe that wealthier candidates possess more pronounced leadership and are hence more competent for political office, but, on the other hand, voters might also perceive high-income candidates as less honest, empathetic and relatable. Voters’ biased evaluations of candidates’ personalities have profound consequences in the electoral arena. Citizens don’t think – moreover don’t trust – that a high-income candidate would stand up for their needs and interests. Consequently, voters turn away from the high-income candidate and are more likely to vote for a low-income candidate.… Read More Literature Review: The Evaluation Bias Against High-Income Congressional Candidates

Are Prime Ministers in Central Eastern Europe Weaker Than Their Counterparts in Western Europe?

It is often argued that prime ministers (PMs) in Central Eastern Europe (CEE) are weaker/perform worse than PMs in Western Europe (WE) (Baylis, 2007; Elgie, 2012). CEE PMs remain in office for relatively short durations and therefore are expected to achieve fewer policy goals than PMs in WE; who on average hold office for longer periods. This argument reaches back to Baylis (2007, p. 83f) who identifies policy performance as the most desirable indicator to evaluate the strength of a PM. While Balyis acknowledges that a PMs duration in office provides only a rough approximation of their policy performance he argues that it should approximate performance reasonably well. First, PMs need time to formulate policy goals and get legislation through parliament. Second, PMs can not remain in office without political support, therefore, PMs with a long duration are likely to also retain the necessary support to enact their preferred agenda.… Read More Are Prime Ministers in Central Eastern Europe Weaker Than Their Counterparts in Western Europe?