Almost invisible: Female politicians in Austrian election media coverage

The underrepresentation of women in campaign coverage is undoubtedly part of a consistent power struggle (Celis and Lovenduski, 2018). Therefore, national parliaments in Western democracies as well as the European Parliament have adopted voluntary or mandatory quota systems (Celis and Lovenduski, 2018; Council of Europe, 2017). As a result, the general visibility of female politicians has increased, albeit rather slowly. In the European Parliament, 29.6 percent of members were women in 1999. By 2008, this number had risen to 31.2 percent and just under a decade later, in 2017, 37.3 percent of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) were women (European Commission, 2009; European Parliament, 2017). However, the question arises as to what extent the media still disadvantages female politicians compared to male politicians in election campaigns. The media can break, but also foster existing stereotypes such as the marginalization and trivialization of female politicians (Wolf, 2008).… Read More Almost invisible: Female politicians in Austrian election media coverage

Literature Review: Loyal soldiers or seasoned leaders? The selection of committee chairs in the European Parliament

Although the position of committee chairs in the European Parliament has become increasingly important and is highly appealing to MEPs, we know little about how they are selected. To fill this gap, in his recently published article in JEPP, M. Chiru sheds light on whether committee seniority and chair seniority affect the likelihood of MEPs to become chair. Building on informational and partisan theories of legislative organization, one of the text’s main arguments predicts pervious leadership positions as a chair should increase the likelihood of receiving the position as committee chair. According to the informational perspective of committee organization, chairs accumulate technical knowledge, develop leadership skills and form personal relationships with other EP or EU leaders irrespective of the committee they preside. This insider knowledge about the legislative processes is, in turn, perceived as most decisive for the nomination as committee chair.… Read More Literature Review: Loyal soldiers or seasoned leaders? The selection of committee chairs in the European Parliament

Speaking or drafting? How parties’ candidate selection procedures shape the prioritization of parliamentary activities in the European Parliament

Legislators have a large number of duties but only a limited amount of time. This scarcity of time is a particularly severe problem for the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): they act on several political levels (the European level, the national sphere and possibly the regional level) and must bridge large geographical distances. Additionally, MEPs serve multiple principals: their national party and their European Party Group (EPG) (e.g., Hix & Høyland, 2014). For coping with this workload, it is wise to prioritize some parliamentary activities over others. For instance, some MEPs tend to favor parliamentary speeches over written questions or the drafting of legislative texts (proposals) over legislative opinions. Some extraordinary active MEPs in the 7th legislative term of the European Parliament (2009-2014), for example, held more than 2000 speeches within five years. Yet, we still do not know why some MEPs prioritize speeches, while others prefer to draft written questions, reports or opinions. Accordingly, in our recent article in Politics and Governance, we ask: How can we explain MEPs’ prioritization strategy in terms of different parliamentary activities?… Read More Speaking or drafting? How parties’ candidate selection procedures shape the prioritization of parliamentary activities in the European Parliament

Literature Review: Stability of voter satisfaction with democracy during the electoral cycle

In their recently published article in Party Politics, Nemčok and Wass shed light on the stability of the differences in satisfaction with democracy between winners and losers of elections. Existing research consistently demonstrates that voters’ evaluation of democratic performance is conditioned by the latest election result. Those who supported the winning party are more satisfied with democracy as they believe the government will implement policies in line with their preferences. Voters belonging to the losing camp, by contrast, are less satisfied because of the prospect that the country will be lead by a government that does not – or to a limited extent – mirror their policy opinions. The authors take an innovative approach by challenging the idea that evaluations of democratic performance and thus the gap in satisfaction between supporters of winning and losing parties is stable within the electoral cycle.… Read More Literature Review: Stability of voter satisfaction with democracy during the electoral cycle

Literature Review: Leader effects and accountability of prime ministers in parliamentary elections

Do electorates punish or reward prime ministers (PMs) for the government performance of their parties? While previous research examined leader effects and evaluation of government as separate determinants of voting decisions, Jan Berz demonstrates in his recently published study in Politics that the impact of voters’ perception of party leaders only partly explains electoral behavior. He argues that voters do not only hold parties in power but also PMs directly accountable in parliamentary elections. Therefore, they punish or reward the governing party and the PM at the ballot box for their perceived performance. As party leaders and agenda-setters, PMs articulate their policy preferences to the public and promote their implementation as heads of government. They have considerable decision-making power within the executive, which is why voters should hold them personally accountable if the government performs poorly. In sum, the evaluation of PMs and thus the leader effects should be confounded by the perceived government performance.… Read More Literature Review: Leader effects and accountability of prime ministers in parliamentary elections

Literature Review: An Analysis of Tweets Sent to UK Members of Parliament

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

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