External threats such as war have been shown to disrupt representation as politicians 'put politics aside' and cooperate across cleavages. This article examines whether a severe economic crisis can have a similar effect. It introduces a new approach that provides a spatial representation of how political parties represent societal actors in their public interactions, based on more than 140,000 machine coded news events from eleven eurozone countries between 2001 and 2011. The study shows that in bad economic times, there is a compression of political representation: parties' relationships with the societal groups they are closest to become less cooperative, while their relationships with the groups they are least close to become less conflictual.
Why and how do international courts justify decisions with citations to their own case law? We argue that, like domestic review courts, international courts use precedent at least in part to convince ' lower' (domestic) courts of the legitimacy of judgements. Several empirical observations are consistent with this view, which are examined through a network analysis of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) citations. First, the Court cites precedent based on the legal issues in the case, not the country of origin. Second, the Court is more careful to embed judgements in its existing case law when the expected value of persuading domestic judges is highest. These findings contribute to a developing literature that suggests international and domestic review courts develop their authority in similar ways.
Why has the association between class and party declined over time? Contrary to conventional wisdom that emphasizes the fracturing of social structures and blurring of class boundaries in postindustrial society, it is argued here that class divisions in party preferences are conditioned by the changing shape of the class structure and the effect of parties' strategic ideological responses to this transformation on the choices facing voters. This thesis is tested using British survey data from 1959 to 2006. We demonstrate that increasing class heterogeneity does not account for the decline of the class-party association, which occurs primarily as a result of ideological convergence between the main parties resulting from New Labour's shift to the centre.
This article reports on the effects of domestic election observers on electoral fraud and violence. Using an experimental research design and polling station data on fraud and violence during Ghana's 2012 elections, it shows that observers reduced fraud and violence at the polling stations which they monitored. It is argued that local electoral competition shapes party activists' response to observers. As expected, in single-party dominant areas, parties used their local political networks to relocate fraud to polling stations without an election observer, and, in contrast, party activists relocated violence to stations without observers in competitive areas - a response that requires less local organizational capacity. This highlights how local party organization and electoral incentives can shape the manipulative electoral strategies employed by parties in democratic elections.
This article explores if (and how) national elections affect the chances of concluding an international agreement. Drawing on a literature about the informational efficiency of elections, it examines how political uncertainty in the run-up to an election impacts the dynamics of international negotiations. Using the case of decision making in the European Union (EU), it finds that (1) pending national elections significantly reduce the chances of reaching an agreement at the international level (2) this effect is strongest during close elections with uncertain outcomes and (3) the effect is particularly pronounced in the case of elections in larger member states. The findings highlight the fruitfulness of further research on the dynamics between national and international politics. The article has positive and normative implications for the literature on two-level games, international negotiations and legislative bargaining in the EU.
Political violence remains a pervasive feature of electoral dynamics in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, even where multiparty elections have become the dominant mode of regulating access to political power. With cross-national data on electoral violence in Sub-Saharan African elections between 1990 and 2010, this article develops and tests a theory that links the use of violent electoral tactics to the high stakes put in place by majoritarian electoral institutions. It is found that electoral violence is more likely in countries that employ majoritarian voting rules and elect fewer legislators from each district. Majoritarian institutions are, as predicted by theory, particularly likely to provoke violence where large ethno-political groups are excluded from power and significant economic inequalities exist.
This article provides the first systematic cross-country analysis of interest group appearances in the news media. The analysis included three countries - the UK, Spain and Denmark - each representing one of Hallin and Mancini's(1) three overall models of media and politics: the liberal system, the polarized pluralist system and the democratic corporatist system. It finds important similarities across countries with high levels of concentration in media coverage of groups, more extensive coverage of economic groups than citizen groups, and differential patterns of group appearances across policy areas and between right-and left-leaning papers. It also identifies country variation, with the highest degree of concentration among group appearances in Spanish newspapers and the most attention to economic groups in Danish newspapers.
Amid growing evidence of unequal democracy' in the United States, labor unions can play a potentially important role by ensuring that low-income citizens' opinions receive more equal consideration when elected officials make policy decisions. To investigate this possibility, this article evaluates the relationship between labor union strength and representational equality across states and finds evidence that states with higher levels of union membership weigh citizens' opinions more equally in the policy-making process. In contrast, there is no relationship between the volume of labor union contributions to political campaigns in a state and the equality of its political representation. These findings suggest that labor unions promote greater political equality primarily by mobilizing their working-class members to political action and, more broadly, underscore the important role that organized labor continues to play in shaping the distribution of political power across American society.
Do changes in health lead to changes in the probability of voting? Using two longitudinal datasets, this article looks at the impact of three measures of health - physical health, mental health and overall well-being - on voting trajectories in young adulthood. The results show that self-rated health is associated with a lower probability of voting in one's first election, depression is related to a decline in turnout over time and physical limitations are unrelated to voting. Some familial resources from childhood are also found to condition when the health-participation effect manifests.
The presidential-parliamentary distinction is foundational to comparative politics and at the center of a large theoretical and empirical literature. However, an examination of constitutional texts suggests a fair degree of heterogeneity within these categories with respect to important institutional attributes. These observations indicate that the classic presidential-parliamentary distinction, and the semi-presidential category, may not be systemic. This article investigates whether the defining attributes that separate presidential and parliamentary constitutions predict other attributes that are stereotypically associated with these institutional models. The results suggest the need for considerable skepticism of the 'systemic' nature of the classification. Indeed, the results imply that in order to predict the powers of a country's executive and legislature, it is more useful to know where and when the constitution was written than whether the country has a presidential or parliamentary system.
Scholarly research has demonstrated rather conclusively that American political elites have undergone a marked partisan polarization over the past thirty years. There is less agreement, however, as to whether the American electorate is polarized. This review article evaluates the evidence, causes and consequences of polarization on both the elite and mass levels. A marked difference between the two is found. Elites are polarized by almost any definition, although this state of affairs is quite common historically. In contrast, mass attitudes are now better sorted by party, but generally not polarized. While it is unclear whether this potentially troubling disconnect between centrist mass attitudes and extreme elite preferences has negative policy consequences, it appears that the super-majoritarian nature of the US Senate serves as a bulwark against policy outcomes that are more ideologically extreme than the public would prefer. Moreover, a public more centrist than those who represent it has also at times exerted a moderating influence on recent policies.
Political scientists' explanations for ethnic voting differ. Some have argued that the utility of ethnicity lies partly in the information that demographic cues provide about candidates, particularly in information-poor societies. However, extant research has not tested this proposition directly. This article proposes that, if part of ethnicity's utility is informational, we should expect that voters' reliance on ethnic cues will decline when certain types of higher-quality information are available. To test this, a survey experiments was conducted in Uganda, with subjects evaluating candidates under varying informational environments. While support for co-ethnics was high when ethnicity was the only distinguishing fact about candidates, it declined when information was presented that portrayed co-ethnics negatively vis-à-vis non co-ethnics. These results suggest that informational environments can impact ethnic voting.
A widespread turn towards mechanism-centred explanations can be viewed across the social sciences in recent decades. This article clarifies what it might mean in practical terms to adopt a mechanismic view of causation. This simple task of definition turns out to be considerably more difficult than it might at first appear. The body of the article elucidates a series of tensions and conflicts within this ambient concept, looking closely at how influential authors have employed this ubiquitous term. It is discovered that 'mechanism' has at least nine distinct meanings as the term is used within contemporary social science: (1) the pathway or process by which an effect is produced; (2) an unobservable causal factor; (3) an easy-to-observe causal factor; (4) a context-dependent (bounded) explanation; (5) a universal (or at least highly general) explanation; (6) an explanation that presumes highly contingent phenomena; (7) an explanation built on phenomena that exhibit lawlike regularities; (8) a distinct technique of analysis (based on qualitative, case study, or process-tracing evidence); or (9) a micro-level explanation for a causal phenomenon. Some of these meanings may be combined into coherent definitions; others are obviously contradictory. It is argued, however, that only the first meaning is consistent with all contemporary usages and with contemporary practices within the social sciences; this is therefore proposed as a minimal (core) definition of the concept. The other meanings are regarded as arguments surrounding the core concept.
This article makes a positive case for an ethnographic sensibility in political theory. Drawing on published ethnographies and original fieldwork, it argues that an ethnographic sensibility can contribute to normative reflection in five distinct ways. It can help uncover the nature of situated normative demands (epistemic argument); diagnose obstacles encountered when responding to these demands (diagnostic argument); evaluate practices and institutions against a given set of values (evaluative argument); probe, question and refine our understanding of values (valuational argument); and uncover underlying social ontologies (ontological argument). The contribution of ethnography to normative theory is distinguished from that of other forms of empirical research, and the dangers of perspectival absorption, bias and particularism are addressed.
This article unpacks the psychological influence of a Muslim cleric's power to mobilize for collective action in an experiment in Afghanistan. The same cleric requests contributions for a hospital from day laborers when dressed as a civilian and as a cleric. In Civilian condition, 50 per cent contributed and 17 per cent made large contributions; in Cleric condition, 83 per cent contributed but average giving did not increase as most gave the smallest possible amount. Inclusion of a recitation of Qur'anic verses in the Cleric condition maintains the 82 per cent contribution rate while increasing large contributions to 30 per cent, doubling average contributions. Formal education and subjective perception of poverty appear to drive the opposing effects of cleric and scripture. These results suggest that the power to activate spiritual channels lies in the scripture, not with the human wielding religious authority, who instead appears to induce minimal compliance with Islamic norms of charitable giving.
This article presents results from survey experiments investigating conditions under which Britons are willing to pay taxes on polluting activities. People are no more willing if revenues are hypothecated for spending on environmental protection, while making such taxes more relevant to people - by naming petrol and electricity as products to which they will apply - has a modestly negative effect. Public willingness increases sharply if people are told that new environmental taxes would be offset by cuts to other taxes, but political distrust appears to undermine much of this effect. Previous studies have argued that political trust shapes public opinion with respect to environmental and many other policies. But this article provides the first experimental evidence suggesting that the relationship is causal, at least for one specific facet: cynicism about public officials' honesty and integrity. The results suggest a need to make confidence in the trustworthiness of public officials and their promises more central to conceptualizations of political trust.
What explains states' sub-national territorial reach? While large parts of the state-building literature have focused on national capabilities, little is known about the determinants of the unevenness of state presence at the sub-national level. This article seeks to fill this gap by looking at early attempts at state building: it investigates the processes of state penetration in the former colony of German East Africa. Contrary to previous studies - which largely emphasized antecedent or structural factors - the current study argues that geographical patterns of state penetration have been driven by the state's strategic imperative to solidify control over territory and establish political stability. The article tests these propositions using an original, geo-referenced grid-cell dataset for the years 1890 to 1909 based on extensive historical records in German colonial yearbooks and maps.
Election-oriented elites are expected to emphasize issues on which their party possesses 'issue ownership' during campaigns. This article extends those theories to the content of executive and legislative agendas. Arguing that executives have incentives to pursue their party's owned issues in the legislature, it theorizes three conditions under which these incentives are constrained: when governments are responsive to issues prioritized by the public, when a party has a stronger electoral mandate and under divided government. The theory is tested using time-series analyses of policy agendas of US congressional statutes and State of the Union addresses (1947-2012) and UK acts of Parliament and the Queen's Speech (1950-2010). The results offer support for the theory, and are particularly strong for the US State of the Union address, providing insights into institutional differences. The implications provide reassurance concerning the conditions under which governments focus attention only on their partisan issue priorities.
Advocates of proportional representation (PR) often cite its potential for increasing citizen involvement in politics as one of PR's fundamental advantages over plurality or first-past-the-post systems. The assumption is that plurality electoral systems distort the translation of votes into seats, discouraging and alienating small party supporters and other political minorities. In contrast, PR systems are believed to provide greater opportunities for representation which are assumed to instil greater efficacy and increase participation. We examine this theory linking institutions to electoral participation across a diverse set of countries using data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. Using a multi-level approach we find evidence consistent with the expectations about the negative influence of disproportional systems on political minorities. Voters are also likely to have stronger partisan preferences in PR systems, which enhances political efficacy and increases voter participation. The effects of PR, however, are not all positive; broad coalitions, which are likely to be a feature of these systems, reduce political efficacy.
Compulsory voting is often linked to pro-democracy orientations in the public. However, there is reason to question the strength and universality of this link. Engaging research on the effects of coercion and punishment, this article argues that forced participation inflates the tendency of those with negative orientations towards democracy to see the democratic system as illegitimate, and to be dissatisfied with democracy. The study finds support for these expectations in analyses of three separate cross-national surveys and a natural experiment. Compulsory voting heightens dissatisfaction with democracy within key segments of the population.