To what extent are new generations 'Thatcherite'? Using British Social Attitudes data for 1985-2012 and applying age-period-cohort analysis and generalized additive models, this article investigates whether Thatcher's Children hold more right-authoritarian political values compared to other political generations. The study further examines the extent to which the generation that came of age under New Labour - Blair's Babies - shares these values. The findings for generation effects indicate that the later political generation is even more right-authoritarian, including with respect to attitudes to redistribution, welfare and crime. This view is supported by evidence of cohort effects. These results show that the legacy of Thatcherism for left-right and libertarian-authoritarian values is its long-term shaping of public opinion through political socialization.
The right-left dimension is ubiquitous in politics, but prior perspectives provide conflicting accounts of whether cultural and economic attitudes are typically aligned on this dimension within mass publics around the world. Using survey data from ninety-nine nations, this study finds not only that right-left attitude organization is uncommon, but that it is more common for culturally and economically right-wing attitudes to correlate negatively with each other, an attitude structure reflecting a contrast between desires for cultural and economic protection vs. freedom. This article examines where, among whom and why protection-freedom attitude organization outweighs right-left attitude organization, and discusses the implications for the psychological bases of ideology, quality of democratic representation and the rise of extreme right politics in the West.
Existing research suggests that voters tend to respond positively to legislator independence due to two types of mechanism. First, dissent has an indirect effect, increasing a legislator's media coverage and personal recognition among constituents (profile effects). Secondly, constituents react positively to dissent when this signals that the legislator has matching political or representational preferences (conditional evaluation). This article presents a third effect: dissent acts as a valence signal of integrity and trustworthiness. Consistent with the valence signalling mechanism, it uses new observational and experimental evidence to show that British voters have a strong and largely unconditional preference for legislators who dissent. The findings pose a dilemma for political systems that rely on strong and cohesive parties.
Recent research on parliamentary institutions has demonstrated that legislatures featuring strong committees play an important role in shaping government policy. However, the impact of the legislators who lead these committees - committee chairs - is poorly understood. This study provides the first examination of whether the partisan control of committee chairs in parliamentary systems has a systematic impact on legislative scrutiny. The article argues that committee chairs can, in principle, use their significant agenda powers to serve two purposes: providing opposition parties with a greater ability to scrutinize government policy proposals, and enabling government parties to better police one another. Analyzing the legislative histories of 1,100 government bills in three parliamentary democracies, the study finds that control of committee chairs significantly strengthens the ability of opposition parties to engage in legislative review. The analysis also suggests that government parties' ability to monitor their coalition allies does not depend on control of committee chairs.
Procedural fairness theory posits that the way in which authoritative decisions are made strongly impacts people's willingness to accept them. This article challenges this claim by contending that democratic governments can achieve little in terms of acceptance of policy decisions by the procedural means at their disposal. Instead, outcome favorability is the dominant determinant of decision acceptance. The article explicates that while central parts of procedural fairness theory are true, outcome favorability is still overwhelmingly the strongest determinant of individuals' willingness to accept authoritative decisions. It improves on previous research by locating all key variables into one causal model and testing this model using appropriate data. Findings from a large number of experiments (both vignette and field) reproduce the expected relationships from previous research and support the additional predictions.
In contrast to much of the political economy literature, this article explores acts of refusal that obstruct attempts to impose austerity measures on advanced industrial democracies. It thereby complements a literature that has thus far focused far more upon the (apparently unobstructed) imposition of austerity. In doing so, it uses two typically 'low-resistance' countries - Japan and the UK -as least-likely cases and finds that austerity is rarely uncontested. Using fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis, it highlights the 'causal recipes' sufficient for both (1) anti-austerity activity to have a significant impact on austerity proposals and (2) the smooth (unobstructed) imposition of austerity. The politics of austerity is shown to be better understood as an iterative interaction between proposals for austerity and the acts of refusal they encounter. These obstacles to austerity appear more straightforward to activate effectively in Japan's coordinated model of capitalism, whilst the UK's liberal market economy tends to generate more innovative forms of dissent that (if they are sufficiently militant) provide an alternative route towards the obstruction of austerity.
What motivates politicians to engage in legislative activities? In multilevel systems politicians may be incentivized by ambitions to advance their careers either at the state or federal level. This article argues that the design of the electoral institutions influences how politicians respond to these incentives. Analyzing a unique dataset of both 'stated' and 'realized' career ambitions of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), it finds that those who seek to move from the European to the national (state) level participate less in legislative activities than those who plan to stay at the European (federal) level. For MEPs who aim to move to the state level, attendance and participation in legislative activities is substantively lower among legislators from candidate-centered systems. Importantly, the effect of career ambitions on legislative participation is stronger in candidate-centered systems than in party-centered systems. These findings suggest that the responsiveness associated with candidate-centered systems comes at the expense of legislative activity.
Although the Paris Agreement arguably made some progress, interest in supplementary approaches to climate change co-operation persist. This article examines the conditions under which a climate club might emerge and grow. Using agent-based simulations, it shows that even with less than a handful of major actors as initial members, a club can eventually reduce global emissions effectively. To succeed, a club must be initiated by the 'right' constellation of enthusiastic actors, offer sufficiently large incentives for reluctant countries and be reasonably unconstrained by conflicts between members over issues beyond climate change. A climate club is particularly likely to persist and grow if initiated by the United States and the European Union. The combination of club-good benefits and conditional commitments can produce broad participation under many conditions.
What kind of content do citizens in a developing and authoritarian country like to acquire from Western free media? What are the effects of their potentially selective exposure? In a survey experiment involving 1,200 Chinese internet users from diverse socio-demographic backgrounds, this study finds that Chinese citizens with higher pro-Western orientations and lower regime evaluations are more inclined to read content that is positive about foreign countries or negative about China. More importantly, reading relatively positive foreign media content about foreign countries can improve rather than worsen the domestic evaluations of citizens who self-select such content. The article argues that this is because reputable Western media outlets' reports are generally more realistic than overly rosy information about foreign socio-economic conditions that popularly circulates in China. Consequently, foreign media may have a corrective function and enhance regime stability in an authoritarian country by making regime critics less critical. The article also introduces a new variant of the patient preference trial design that integrates self-selection and random assignment of treatments in a way that is useful for studying information effects.
How does district magnitude affect electoral outcomes? This article addresses this question by exploiting a combination of two natural experiments in Argentina between 1985 and 2015. Argentine provinces elect half of their congressional delegation every two years, and thus districts with an odd number of representatives have varying magnitudes in different election years. Furthermore, whether a province elects more representatives in midterm or concurrent years was decided by lottery in 1983. I find that district magnitude (a) increases electoral support for small parties, (b) increases the (effective) number of parties that gain seats and (c) reduces electoral disproportionality. The last two results are driven by the mechanical rather than the psychological effect of electoral rules.
Can rebel organizations in a civil conflict use social media to garner international support? This article argues that the use of social media is a unique form of public diplomacy through which rebels project a favorable image to gain that support. It analyzes the Libyan civil war, during which rebels invested considerable resources in diplomatic efforts to gain US support. The study entails collecting original data, and finds that rebel public diplomacy via Twitter increases co-operation with the rebels when their message (1) clarifies the type of regime they intend to create and (2) emphasizes the atrocities perpetrated by the government. Providing rebels with an important tool of image projection, social media can affect dynamics in an ever more connected international arena.
What explains variation in the tactical choices of non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? This article uses network autocorrelation models to establish how the tactical choices of climate change NGOs are shaped by their embeddedness in transnational advocacy networks. Specifically, it finds that NGOs are more likely to adopt protest tactics when adjacent organizations - those with whom they have direct ties - have already done so. The choices of equivalent organizations - those that occupy similar relational roles in the network - do not appear to be influential. Qualitative evidence also shows that NGOs are affected by relational pressure from their peers, which alters their perception of costs and benefits. These findings enhance understanding of how networks influence actors' behavior and offer insights into the relational processes that generate protest in global politics.
Coalition governance requires parties to come to collective policy decisions while simultaneously competing for votes. This reality has inspired a vibrant literature on coalition policy making, which is focused on legislative organization and behavior, though it is not clear how it affects the electorate. This article addresses this gap in the literature by examining how voters' perceptions of compromise in coalition policy making affect their vote choices. Analyzing data from six parliamentary democracies where multiparty governance is the norm, it finds that voters punish parties they view as compromising. More specifically, voters are found to discount the policy accomplishments and policy promises of compromising parties, and that this tendency is more pronounced among previous incumbent cabinet supporters and the politically disinterested. These findings have important implications for the study of voting as well as coalition policy making.
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.
This article explores an agency model in which voters learn about both an incumbent and an opponent. They observe the incumbent's policy record and update their beliefs about his opponent via a campaign. Although the former is relatively more informative, it can be costly for the voter to learn about the incumbent from her policy record. This is because policy reforms, which allow a voter to learn an incumbent's ability, are risky and can leave the voter worse off. Then the voter may prefer the incumbent to take safer actions. The efficient level of reform - the one preferred by the voter - balances the value of learning with the expected policy costs/benefits. In a world where the opponent's campaign is uninformative, reform can be too low due to the incumbent's fear of failure. Or it can be too high: the incumbent may gamble on success. This article shows that the presence of an opponent who can reveal information via a campaign exacerbates these inefficiencies. An incumbent who anticipates the effect of an opponent's campaign on voter beliefs is more likely to make inefficient policy choices. Further, such campaigns can lead to an overall welfare loss when they reveal little about the opponent's ability and yet have an impact on the incumbent's policy choice.
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.
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.
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.
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.