Every Single Word: A New Data Set Including All Parliamentary Materials Published in Germany

Parliamentary documents like written and oral questions, motions or bills represent an invaluable data source for political scientists in various fields of the discipline. They allow researchers to address topics as diverse as representation and responsiveness, parliamentary agendas and parliamentary organization. However, studies often remain limited to short periods of time and few types of documents and/or policy areas, because the process of gathering the required documents and preparing them for analyses is very time-consuming and resource-intensive. In the absence of comprehensive data sets covering all written parliamentary communication in a country, political scientists thus get only a glimpse of the full picture. In our recent publication in Government and Opposition, we introduce a novel data set containing the full official record of the Bundestag between 1949 and 2017, amounting to a total of 131,835 documents, which will enrich researchers’ data sources.… Read More Every Single Word: A New Data Set Including All Parliamentary Materials Published in Germany

Literature Review: Does politicisation matter for EU representation? A comparison of four European Parliament elections

The European Union´s (EU) polities and politics, the party-system and the public debate become ever more contested, a phenomenon referred to as politicisation. Vasilopoulou and Gattermann investigate the possible influence of the latter on the perceived political representation of voters through parties in the European Parliament (EP). The authors argue that politicisation could potentially reduce the relative voter congruence (RVC), i.e. the ideological distance of the individual voter in relation to all citizens that casted their vote for the same party. Because of growing contestation, party positions on EU policy and polity change. As voters increasingly voice their preferences, parties may reflect the views of voters more closely. Alternatively, Vasilopoulou and Gattermann hypothesise that politicisation has no effects on RVC because of the EP´s second-order election characteristics and the member state´s heterogeneity. The authors test these expectations based on data for the EU-15 countries over the course of four elections (1999-2014).… Read More Literature Review: Does politicisation matter for EU representation? A comparison of four European Parliament elections

Asylum-related parliamentary questions during the refugee crisis in the German Bundestag: Surprising lessons from a content analysis

Five years have passed since the large inflow of people seeking asylum in Europe that was also labeled “refugee crisis”. At that time, public discourses in the EU member countries evolved around narratives emphasizing humanitarianism, security threat, and economization. Within weeks, the main message sent by the media and politicians shifted from empathic support for vulnerable individuals to suspicious and hostile eyeballing of sometimes even dangerous strangers (Georgiu and Zaborowski 2017). In this blog post, we are interested in the way individual MPs addressed the topic asylum during the course of the crisis. We aim to explore two related research questions: Firstly, did the content of MPs’ parliamentary questions undergo a similar shift from refugee- to nation-state-centered priorities? And secondly, which substantial priorities can we uncover in the parliamentary questions submitted by MPs of immigrant origin?… Read More Asylum-related parliamentary questions during the refugee crisis in the German Bundestag: Surprising lessons from a content analysis

Our cabinet will survive! How women in the executive influence government stability

The interaction of cabinet members takes place inside a black box. However, when disputes within the government become public, it appears like female cabinet members display a different leadership style than their male colleagues. For instance, gendered conflict resolution strategies became visible when the Merkel IV cabinet had to define a new climate protection strategy in 2019 and interests in various policy areas clashed. Disagreement between the female minister of environment, Svenja Schulze (SPD), and the female minister of agriculture, Julia Klöckner (CDU/CSU), were solved through direct communication and focused on the substance of the problem. By contrast, the male minister of transport, Andreas Scheuer (CDU/CSU), attacked the environmental minister on a personal level and through the media. Scheuer publicly claimed that Schulze intentionally reached poor results for Germany at EU-level negotiations to put her interests through, compared her policy proposals to communist policies and limited the scope for compromise by claiming his party would never support initiatives similar to those of Schulze (Kersting and Murphy 2019; Krämer 2018; Preker 2020; Welt 2019). Public disputes of this sort can have far-reaching consequences and cause fractions within government. In our new article in the Journal of European Public Policy, we propose that – as a consequence of such gendered patterns of leadership style – women’s presence as ministers and prime ministers decreases the risk for early cabinet termination and, hence, makes governments more stable.… Read More Our cabinet will survive! How women in the executive influence government stability

Business as usual? The COVID-19 crisis in German state legislatures

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

Happiness and Voting: Evidence from Four Decades of Elections in Europe

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

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