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

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

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?