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

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

Do female MPs represent women’s interests in parliament? Yes, but only if the electoral system permits it!

It is a common assumption that the election of more women to parliament leads to a higher representation of women’s interests in the legislative arena. Because female members of parliament (MPs) share gender-specific experiences with the female population – so the argument goes – it is expected that they are more concerned with women-specific topics and that they also represent these issues more frequently in the parliamentary process compared with their male colleagues (Phillips 1995). On the one hand, this is corroborated by a number of studies showing that female legislators have different priorities than male MPs (Coffé and Reiser 2018), that they increasingly engage in plenary and committee debates on women-specific interests (Bäck, Debus and Müller 2014), and that they introduce more law initiatives on women-specific interests (Volden, Wiseman, and Wittmer 2018). On the other hand, however, many of these studies also reveal that the legislative behavior of female MPs does not always indicate strong commitments to the representation of women-specific interests. Besides the justified critique that women are not a homogenous group with a fixed set of interests, these results also spurred the conclusion that the link between descriptive and substantive representation of women seems to be more complicated than previously assumed and that we should focus on the analysis of the conditions and institutional settings under which female legislators are able to act on behalf of women.… Read More Do female MPs represent women’s interests in parliament? Yes, but only if the electoral system permits it!