01/The Unintended Consequences of Speaking Out Against the Radical Right (with Miguel Won)

The emergence of the radical right signals that social norms and values are changing. Existing literature suggests that citizens choose to voice their concerns when faced with the erosion of democracy. In this paper, we look at whether speaking out against the radical right is effective in hollowing its influence, or if it backfires and helps radical right parties to secure more support. Using Twitter data from Portugal, we use node embeddings to map out interactions on social media. Subsequently, we estimate a deep-learning automated sentiment analysis of quoted tweets and use a vector auto-regression model to forecast who contributes the most to the growth of the radical right on Twitter: users who espouse negative sentiments or those who show positive sentiments towards the fledgling party. Evidence suggests that users who express negative sentiments towards the radical right contribute the most to its growth and influence on Twitter.

02/Electoral Systems and the Personal Vote (with Yael Shomer and Matthew S. Shugart)

Electoral systems are the cornerstone of representation. Their rules and functioning shape the channelling of political and economic interests and the extent to which representatives are accountable to citizens. Carey and Shugart’s seminal contribution in the mid-1990s triggered an explosion in the comparative politics literature in the study of the effects of electoral systems, the personal vote and representation. Carey and Shugart’s contribution offered an analytical framework whose capacity to travel and to analyze distinct institutional designs made it highly influential. Many scholars have tested, and extended, Carey and Shugart’s framework, often with contradictory findings. In this paper, our goal is to provide a review of the literature on electoral systems and personal vote. First, we begin by mapping the intellectual roots of the personal vote concept and revisiting Carey and Shugart’s original argument. Second, we discuss the empirical indicators that scholars have used to measure personalist behavior. Third, we offer a classification scheme whose goal is to map the literature along two dimensions: legislators’ goals and principals. Fourth, we debate the literature along those two dimensions. Finally, we set the road ahead and point out to future research avenues. 

03/Estimating electoral bias against candidate traits (with Georgina Evans and Sascha Riaz)

Are voters biased against certain types of candidate, such as women? This question is a subject of immense scholarly and political interest, since parties are disinclined to nominate candidates whom they expect to incur an electoral penalty. Yet, despite widespread interest in the subject, we identify a set of shared methodological shortcomings in prominent observational studies that limit the reliability of existing inferences. Most significantly, few studies provide a precise definition of the notion of voter bias being estimated. In response to this, we provide a unified framework for defining types of bias against candidates and propose an estimation strategy to identify the electoral penalty parties have incurred in the past for nominating certain candidates, under clearly specified assumptions. We apply our estimator in two settings: First, we study the effect of gender in the United Kingdom and Germany. In contrast to prior experimental work, we find precisely estimated null effects for voter bias against women. We also examine the effect of education in Germany, where we find an electoral premium of about 0.5 percentage points for candidates with doctoral degrees.

04/Coalition governance in presidential democracies (with Joris Thijm)

Existing work on cabinets in presidential democracies focuses on portfolio allocation and cabinet duration. There is much work on the beginning and end of coalition politics in presidential democracies. However, apart from a few case studies, coalition governance has remained a largely uncharted territory. Coalition governments in presidential democracies are plagued with delegation problems akin to their parliamentary counterparts: hidden information, moral hazard, and adverse selection. In this paper, we contribute to the literature on coalition governance in presidential democracies. More specifically, we focus on how political parties deploy junior ministers to shadow their coalition partners. Furthermore, our model distinguishes between president-based and party-based shadowing to account for junior ministers who operate as presidential and as party agents. Using an original dataset, our paper focuses on nine presidential democracies over a twenty-year period. Findings suggest that both parties and the president use coalition governance tools to curb delegation perils and implement their preferred policy preferences.

05/European Union Structural Funds as a Political and Economic Curse (with Nuno Palma)

Structural funds are considered to be an important EU policy to shore up cohesion, inclusiveness and help the development of poorer countries. We argue that for all the governance accountability mechanisms set in place at the EU level, structural funds have had unintended consequences. They create incentives for resource curse, conditional on institutional design at the national level. Resource curse has both economic and political components. In response to an exogenous increase in resources, the economic component (Dutch disease) consists of a rise in the price of tradable relative to non-tradables, which leads to a loss of competitiveness of national tradable industry. The political component relates to increased state capture, declining quality of institutions, and decrease accountability, because national elites do not need to deliver efficient policies. We illustrate our mechanisms turning to Portugal as a case study. Portugal has been a net receiver of structural funds since its accession to the EU in 1986. For all the structural funds received over the past 35 years, after an early period of convergence, the country has been losing competitiveness, its economy has been stagnated for 20 years, and international indicators such as V-Dem suggest a decline in the quality of democracy.