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
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
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
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
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?
Most executives around the world are largely male-dominated, even though the proportion of women ministers is at an all-time high at the moment with 20.7 per cent (812 out of 3922), (IPU 2019). Some scholars argue that the low numbers follow from the fact that women need to overcome higher barriers than men to get to the top (e.g. Murray 2014, Verge and Astudillo 2019). They need to make-up for intangible masculine assets that they naturally do not possess but that are highly valued by institutional and political gatekeepers who select ministers. Based on this idea, women might have to be exceptional to overcome social, structural, and political obstacles to office. To understand this rationale in more detail, in this blogpost, I zoom into the German case to answer the question whether female ministers are better equipped for a position in government than their male colleagues?… Read More German female and male ministers – many similarities and little differences
In their recent work, Lehrer and Lin shed some light on the black box of party behavior. The authors ask under what conditions the broad-appeal strategy works. This phenomenon describes voters’ tendency to vote for ambiguous parties. Sending equivocal policy signals to voters, a party becomes attractive to more voters with diverse policy interests. If a party has ambiguous party platform, voters tend to underestimate the policy distance between their own position and the position of the party. Therefore, the broad-appeal strategy is a winning strategy to broaden up electoral support.… Read More Literature Review: Everything to everyone?