Scholars often use roll-call votes to study legislative behaviour. However, many legislatures only conclude a minority of decisions by roll call. Thus, if these votes are not a random sample of the universe of votes cast, scholars may be drawing misleading inferences. In fact, theories over why roll-call votes are requested would predict selection bias based on exactly the characteristics of legislative voting that scholars have most heavily studied. This article demonstrates the character and severity of this sampling problem empirically by examining European Parliament vote data for a whole year. Given that many legislatures decided only a fraction of their legislation by roll call, these findings have potentially important implications for the general study of legislative behaviour.
Why and how do candidates choose the issues on which their campaigns are based? Drawing on a large database of candidate advertisements from the 1998 House and Senate campaigns, extant theories of issue emphasis, which focus on factors such as party ownership and candidate record, are tested here and these theories are expanded by examining in more detail the role of constituency characteristics. Most notably, party ownership's impact is demonstrated to be weak: candidates are more willing to 'trespass' or talk about the other party's issues than previous literature has found. Also 'trespassing' is shown to be facilitated by framing the other party's issues in certain ways. The results have implications for theories of candidate strategy and for normative questions, such as how much 'dialogue' occurs in campaigns.
Political parties that wish to exercise executive power in parliamentary democracies are typically forced to enter some form of coalition. Parties can either form a pre-electoral coalition prior to election or they can compete independently and form a government coalition afterwards. While there is a vast literature on government coalitions, little is known about pre-electoral coalitions. A systematic analysis of these coalitions using a new dataset constructed by the author and presented here contains information on all potential pre-electoral coalition dyads in twenty industrialized parliamentary democracies from 1946 to 1998. Pre-electoral coalitions are more likely to form between ideologically compatible parties. They are also more likely to form when the expected coalition size is large (but not too large) and the potential coalition partners are similar in size. Finally, they are more likely to form if the party system is ideologically polarized and the electoral rules are disproportional.
A heated scholarly debate rages over the 'culture wars thesis' in American politics. Drawing on the literature on mass opinion constraint and its sources, we propose a resolution to this debate: the culture wars influence mass political behaviour in special religious, policy and political contexts where logical, psychological, social and electoral sources of opinion constraint are in effect. Using data pooled from the 1992, 1996 and 2000 American National Election Studies, we find strong support for our argument. We conclude that the cultural wars are waged by limited religious troops on narrow policy fronts under special political leadership, and a broader cultural conflagration is largely a rumour.
Active labour-market policy is an important tool for governments interested in the promotion of employment. This article explores a topic in the comparative political economy literature in need of more attention: the politics behind the promotion of active labour policies. It is argued here that social democratic governments are often not interested in employment promotion measures; labour is divided into those with secure employment (insiders) and those without (outsiders); it is contended that social democratic governments have strong incentives to pursue labour-market policies that benefit insiders but not outsiders. There are factors, however, that either exacerbate or limit the effects of insider-outsider differences on social democracy. These claims are tested in three ways. First, the interplay of government partisanship and employment protection is explored in the British case. Secondly, the individual preferences assumed in the model are tested with Eurobarometer data. And thirdly, the effects of social democracy on active labour-market policy are analysed using data from sixteen industrialized democracies.
Europe has over the past century experienced an impressive increase in the number of presidential heads of state. Many of the new democracies since the mid-1970s are semi-presidential regimes that combine a popularly elected president with the traditional features of parliamentary democracy. At the same time, the frequency of the appointment of non-partisan cabinet members has risen. Cabinet appointments are the most important personnel decisions in parliamentary systems, and traditionally such appointments have been virtually monopolized by the governing political parties. Under semi-presidentialism, however, cabinet appointments may instead become a tug-of-war between a prime minister and a president with different partisan preferences. In this article the relationship between presidential power and the incidence of non-partisan cabinet appointments is examined and a game-theoretic model of cabinet appointments in parliamentary systems with a strong president is developed. In this model the prime minister has proposal power over cabinet appointments and the president an ex post veto. This model yields three comparative statics predictions concerning non-partisan cabinet appointments. The incidence of such appointments should covary positively with the president's powers and negatively with the prime minister's electoral prospects. The likelihood of such appointments should also correlate in a non-intuitive way with the value that the president and the prime minister attach to non-partisan appointees. Based on these results, eight operational hypotheses are developed, which are tested against a sample of 134 European cabinets representing twelve semi-presidential and twelve purely parliamentary regimes in the 1990s. Significant empirical support is found for all three comparative statics results and for most of the specific hypotheses.
If voters use information about the economy to assess the competence of incumbents, a connection between economic conditions and incumbent success should only be discernible in settings where public policy might plausibly affect the economy, and where the assignment of government responsibility is relatively straightforward. Applying this logic to gubernatorial elections in the United States, we test the following hypothesis: the connection between economic conditions and incumbents' vote shares is mediated by the structure of the state economy. This hypothesis is premised on the idea that voters understand that raw macroeconomic aggregates - when driven by factors like weather, commodity prices and federal policy - are poor signals of incumbent performance. Using data from gubernatorial elections held between 1950 and 1998, we show that the connection between macroeconomic indicators and incumbent success is weak in states dominated by natural resources and farming but quite strong elsewhere. This finding helps explain why earlier studies found no connection between state-level economic conditions and gubernatorial elections.
Do democratic elections and experience with democracy affect citizens' propensity to engage in political protest? If so, how? A model of protest potential based on the incentives election winners and losers face in new and established democratic systems is presented. Using surveys conducted by the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) in seventeen democracies around the globe, the effect on political protest potential of being in the political minority or majority after an election is compared. Being in the political minority heightens citizens' political protest potential. Moreover, the effect on protest potential of losing is significantly greater in new democracies compared with established ones. These findings provide systematic evidence that election outcomes should be considered important indicators of political protest potential, and they imply that this effect is particularly salient in countries whose democratic institutions are relatively new and potentially more unstable.
Recent empirical studies on American elections suggest that campaigns provide voters with the necessary information to make reasoned voting decisions. Specifically, campaigns help voters leam about the electoral relevance of 'fundamental variables', such as the economy and party stances, that have been consistently shown to predict electoral outcomes. Do these findings generalize beyond the American case? This article uses cross-national survey data in order to subject this thesis to a more comprehensive test. The analysis provides further support for the hypothesis that campaigns 'enlighten' voters as the election draws near. Moreover, the article shows that some voters leam more from campaigns than others. Campaign effects are more pronounced among individuals with low political sophistication and those living in party list systems. Implications for future research are explored, suggesting a ripe research agenda using under-tapped cross-national data.
A sophisticated research tradition has explored theoretically and empirically the consequences of election laws for vote-seat disproportionality and, more recently, for the distance between citizen and legislative left-right medians. In contemporary parliamentary systems, policy making tends to be dominated by governments, not legislatures. This article extends election law theory to its expected effects on the left-right representativeness of governing parties and examines whether these are realized after eighty-two elections in fifteen mature parliamentary systems. The analysis shows how the legislative median party, the legislative plurality party and pre-election coalition agreements between parties shape these connections between citizens, legislatures and governments. The article also develops more nuanced measures of party influence on policy making and re-examines the governmental findings using these. Governments and policy-making configurations emerging from bargaining after PR elections are in net significantly closer to their citizens than those created by SMD elections.
Liberal democracies have long practised torture, but should they ever permit their officials to torture (and, if so, when?), how should their citizens think and talk about it, and how should the law treat it? Is it just another instance of 'dirty hands' in politics? If it averts some terrible harm, can resorting to it be seen as choosing the 'lesser evil'? What, then, is torture? The 'torture memos' of the Bush administration's legal advisers are reviewed and their attempt to narrow its definition criticized, as is Judge Posner's attempt to confine it to physical coercion. Attempts to evade the questions above (on the grounds that torture is never effective in averting disaster) are rejected. It is suggested that torture, unlike other cases of dirty hands considered, cannot be rendered liberal-democratically accountable, in the sense that it will sometimes be legitimate and, when not, punished, because its practice cannot be publicly recognized without undermining both the democratic and liberal components of liberal democracy. This suggestion is supported by adducing a 'Durkheimian argument' to the effect that our institutions and customs have been so penetrated by core elements of an egalitarian 'religion of individualism' that violating them threatens a kind of 'moral disintegration'. This, it is argued, requires liberal democracies to reject the very idea of a scale that can allow comparison of the benefits against the costs of torturing. The absolute prohibition serves to maintain inhibitions, though these are currently being eroded by the fear of terrorism.
Immigration has become a highly salient political issue in many of the world's affluent democracies. Yet, the electoral dynamics of anti-immigrant sentiment remain barely understood. We distinguish two dimensions of concern about immigrants: material threat and cultural threat, and hold that the influence of both on the right-wing populist party vote is critically mediated by policy preferences to restrict immigration and to isolate Australia from foreign influence. The result is a path model of voting that allows material and cultural threat to influence policy preferences about how to deal with the 'immigrant problem', and allows both threat and policy preferences to affect voting for the far-right One Nation party in Australia. Our results confirm that popular concern about immigrants is multi-dimensional and that its two dimensions have different sources. We also demonstrate that anti-immigrant sentiment works indirectly through policy orientations to influence vote choice. Feelings about immigrants, in other words, have an electoral effect only when there is a good fit between the policy stances of voters and the policies promoted by the parties on offer.
In contests for the presidential nominations from the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, the duration of candidacies determines both the winning candidate (i.e., the one who outlasts his or her opponents) and the amount of intraparty conflict before the nomination is bestowed. This article analyses how strategic considerations lead some candidates to exit the race more quickly than others. Factors which could shape such strategic considerations include initial candidate assets and characteristics (national poll standings, fund-raising totals and occupational background), initial contest outcomes (Iowa and New Hampshire) and structural variables (proportional representation delegate distribution rules, party, front-loaded calendar). Results from a duration model indicate that poll standings, money (in a curvilinear pattern). New Hampshire and Iowa results, occupational backgrounds and the front-loading of the primary calendar shaped the length of candidacies for presidential contestants from 1980 to 2004. Candidates lacking in initial assets or early victories leave the nomination race in a process most resembling a game of attrition.
To what extent does public support for subnational officials fluctuate in response to local rather than national performance? Are the policy failures of subnational officials reliably punished by voters? Drawing upon both individual and aggregate level data, this article attempts to shed new light on these questions about the politics of decentralization by exploring electoral outcomes and public opinion at the subnational level in Argentina. Consistent with referendum voting models, this analysis suggests that the fate of candidates in both national and subnational elections is shaped by the performance of the incumbent presidential administration. Moreover, to the extent that subnational performance has an electoral impact, voters do not necessarily respond in ways that enhance electoral accountability. Voters not only blame and reward subnational officials for national performance, but also attribute responsibility for subnational performance to national authorities. The implications with respect to the impact of decentralized decision making on democratic accountability are decidedly mixed and anything but consistent with the argument that decentralization results in a closer match between citizen preferences and the allocation of public resources.
There is ongoing controversy as to whether political democracy inhibits or facilitates national economic growth. It is argued here that the answer to this question depends greatly on the regional political context within which democracy functions. In regions where social groups clamour for redistribution, as in Latin America, democracy may lead to populism and poor economic performance. Similarly, in regions where state elites are generally committed to promoting rapid industrialization, as in parts of Asia, democratic pressures may impede effective economic policy. However, in regions where patrimonialism is chronic, as in Sub-Saharan Africa, democracy may provide a useful mechanism for evicting grossly corrupt politicians and may therefore facilitate higher rates of economic growth. These regional arguments are tested statistically here and show that democratic governance constrains growth in Latin America and Asia yet facilitates growth in Africa. Sensitivity analyses indicate that these findings are fairly robust.
Are some people more prone to instabilities in partisanship due to the ways they rank and organize their core values? We investigate the mechanisms of partisan volatility, considering whether instabilities reflect value conflict and ambivalence. Our expectation is that when the basic values of the American ethos come into conflict in elite discourse, citizens have difficulty reconciling their own value arrangement with that of elites, resulting in greater partisan volatility. To this end, we use several heteroscedastic regression and ordered probit models to explore whether the conflict of competing values explains the response variance and instability of individual-level partisanship and ideology over time. To construct measures of value conflict, we rely on data from the 1992, 1994 and 1996 American National Election Studies. We find that, while instabilities in partisan identification reflect low information for some, the competition of core values generates volatility in partisan affiliations for others. In deliberating the value tradeoffs of politics, people may be of two minds even about central beliefs such as party identification.
Biotechnology policy in the United States promotes the commercial development of genetically modified crops, yet adopts a precautionary approach when it comes to stem cells and cloning. In this article, the evolution of this bifurcated policy domain is traced. A detailed analysis of congressional hearings shows how distinctions between the products of biotechnology came to be reflected in the character of committees holding hearings, the attention to risks and benefits, and the pattern of interest-group activity in different biotechnology applications. It is argued that many of the differences that separate the United States and Europe in biotechnology reflect the way institutions reinforce past policy choices.
It is a fairly common criticism of deliberative democratic ideals that one cannot involve thousands, let alone millions, of people in a decision-making process and still retain its deliberative character, at least not in any sense as strict as those of the classic expositions of deliberative democratic principles. Various solutions to this scale problem have been proposed, but implicit in most deliberative designs is the media solution. People can watch the debate unfold on television, can listen to it on the radio, can follow it, or even contribute to a limited extent, online. This is supposed to ensure not only that deliberation is subject to the check of publicity, but also that it is dispersed throughout the public sphere. This is precisely the idea behind James Fishkin's deliberative poll technique, designed to be televised so that deliberation among a few would be brought to 'an audience of millions', 'bridging the gap' between informed and uninformed opinion, and acting as a 'catalyst' to change the nature of discussion on a topic in a broader community. But what happens when we rely on the media to bear the weight of responsibility for generating links between insiders and outsiders in public deliberation? The media are not broad pipes which simply convey whatever is put into them but, like all institutions, shape that input in sometimes significant ways. If we are to understand the value of the media in addressing problems of deliberative scale, we need to understand those institutional effects. In this Research Note I examine the effects the media had on the kinds of information transferred from deliberators to audience in a deliberative poll that took place in the United Kingdom in July 1998. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT
The US federal bureaucracy implements the nation's laws while juggling its own preferences and the preferences of numerous stakeholders. This article begins to unpack the conditions under which the bureaucracy responds to its stakeholders during rule making, and it is argued that bureaucratic responsiveness is conditioned on the level of attention provided by Congress and the President. This argument is tested with a dataset of forty rules and 1,444 interest group comments. Interest group influence is found to be constrained by congressional - but not presidential - attention to rule making. The results also shed light on Wilson's interest group theory of politics and suggest that the fragmentation of group preferences is less important than the central message sent by groups.
Do trade-transmitted international business cycles affect the timing of national elections? This article shows that export expansions do not differ substantively from booms in aggregate output in inviting opportunistic governments to call elections, especially as their terms mature. Further analysis confirms two ancillary implications of this relationship: (a) that clusters of countries tend to hold elections in periods of international economic expansion and (b) that national election cycles, much like business cycles, have become more correlated over time, most prominently in Europe. The findings in this article raise implications for continued economic integration: freer movement of goods, services and capital may imply more correlated business cycles and, by extension, election cycles.