EUI Comparative Politics Seminar Series

The Comparative Politics Seminar Series in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute is a venue for the presentation of work in progress by scholars from across the subfield of comparative politics.

It usually takes place on Thursdays from 17:00 to 18:30 at Seminar Room 2, in Badia Fiesolana (Fiesole). See below or sync the calendar for the exact location for each meeting. See previous events.

The series is organized by Elias Dinas, Miriam Golden, Simon Hix, and Filip Kostelka, with support by Daniel Urquijo and Pau Grau.

Upcoming Speakers

Speakers during Winter 2024

Thursday 18 January 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Noam Lupu (Vanderbilt)

Supportive Political Participation: The Effects of Serving as a Poll Worker

Abstract:

Participatory theories of democracy posit that participating in the political process transforms individuals into better democratic citizens. But empirical research on the individual-level effects of participation focuses overwhelmingly on voting, with mixed results and debate about the mechanisms. This study focuses on a different form of political participation and leverages a natural experiment in Peru to address the challenge posed by certain types of individuals self-selecting into political participation. Prior to every election, Peruvian officials randomly select citizens to serve as poll monitors on Election Day. Following the January 2020 congressional elections, I conducted a two-wave panel survey of these randomly selected poll monitors and also randomly selected alternates. I find that participation as a poll worker increases an individual’s senses of empowerment and efficacy, but does not provoke political interest or knowledge. I also find that participation boosts support for and trust in democratic institutions, especially elections, and that it fosters future civic participation. I find some evidence that these effects endure, at least for several months, although my follow-up estimates are less precise. Consistent with participatory theories of democracy, participation of this kind does shape citizens.


Thursday 25 January 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Raluca Pahontu (KCL)

Resemblance and Discrimination in Elections (with Stavros Poupakis, Brunel University London)

Abstract:

Discrimination affects hiring, mating and voting decisions. Whilst discrimination in elections mainly relates to gender or race, we introduce a novel source of discrimination: candidate resemblance. When candidates’ partisanship is not known, voters select those that resemble most elected co-partisans. Using a machine learning algorithm for face comparison among white male legislators, we find a stronger resemblance effect for Republicans compared to Democrats in the US. This happens because Republicans have a higher within-party facial resemblance than Democrats, even when accounting for gender and race. We find a similar pattern in the UK, where Conservative MPs are more similar looking to each other than Labour. Using a survey experiment, we find that Tory voters reward resemblance, while there is no similar effect for Labour. The results are consistent with an interpretation of this behaviour as a form of statistical discrimination.


Thursday 01 February 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Mathilde Emeriau (Sciences Po)

In or Out? Xenophobic Violence and Immigrant Integration. Evidence from 19th century France (with Stephane Wolton, LSE)

Abstract:

How do immigrants respond to xenophobic violence? We study how Italian immigrants responded to a wave of anti-Italian violence triggered by the assassination of the French president by an Italian anarchist in June 1894. Using French nominative census records from 1886, 1891 and 1896 and official naturalization decrees published between 1887 to 1898, we study the decision of Italian immigrants to either leave their host communities or apply for naturalization using a difference-in-differences design, comparing the change in exit and naturalization application rate of Italians before and after the assassination to that of other foreigners in the same period. We document how xenophobic violence triggered an increase in both exits and naturalization applications, with greater violence or threat thereof associated with more exits and naturalization applications. We also find that well-integrated Italians, as proxied by family status, are more likely to naturalize and less integrated ones are more likely to exit. We present a stylized model of immigrants’ choices to make sense of these findings


Thursday 08 February 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Max Schaub (University of Hamburg)

Cultural Roots of Negative Outgroup Attitudes: Theory and Evidence from the Re-activation of Antisemitic Stereotypes in Germany (with Eylem Kanol, WZB)

Abstract:

Outgroup prejudice is frequently attributed to contemporaneous factors, such as economic competition and perceptions of threat. We investigate the underlying source of stereotypes. We propose that many negative outgroup attitudes are ultimately rooted in what we refer to as cultural scripts—interconnected networks of meanings that link particular group identities to negatively-connoted phenomena. Using original survey data during the Covid-19 pandemic in Germany (n=17,800), we document a rise in antisemitic attitudes among individuals directly exposed to the pandemic, but solely among Christian believers. We suggest that this is because Christians rely on a cultural script linking Judaism with the spread of diseases. Evidence for the existence of this script is obtained from an automated text analysis of an original corpus of antisemitic texts (n=172). By means of a concept association task and a survey experiment (n=2,000), we demonstrate the differential effect of the script in the minds of Christians and non-Christians. We rule out several alternative explanations, particularly right-wing ideology. Our work demonstrates the deep cultural roots of exclusionary political attitudes and the mechanisms behind their activation.


Thursday 15 February 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Emmy Lindstam (IE Madrid)

“Evaluating the Effects of Inclusive Historical Narratives on Democratic Attitudes: Evidence from India and the United States” (with Nicholas Haas, Aarhus University)

Abstract:

Concerns about the state of democracy have surged in several countries amongst new evidence that many citizens do not value democratic principles or accept election results. Many suggest that at the core of these anti-democratic beliefs is a dismissal of some voters – ethnic minorities – as lesser members of the nation. In this project, we study whether historical narratives that highlight ethnic minorities’ positive contributions to the nation increase perceptions that they are entitled to speak on the nation’s behalf, and thereby enhance majority members support for the democratic process. We theorise that inclusive historical narratives can counteract the notion that minorities are lesser members of the nation and thus, the anti-democratic belief that their votes count less or not at all. To test our theory, we conduct online experiments in the world’s two largest democracies: India and the United States. In our experiments, we randomly assign participants either politically neutral or inclusive educational content sourced from real history textbooks. We then use both behavioural and stated preference measures to evaluate whether different historical narratives affect perceptions of minorities’ place in the nation and support for anti-democratic attitudes, norms, and policies. Our findings indicate that battles over history education may carry consequences for majority members’ support for democratic principles and ethnic minorities’ political voice.


Thursday 22 February 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Kevin Arceneaux (Sciences Po)

Is Political Ignorance bliss? The Social and Political Effects of Facebook (with Martial Foucault, CEVIPOF; Kalli Giannelos, CEVIPOF & Paris-Dauphine; Jonathan Ladd, Georgetown U; Can Zengin, CEVIPOF & Temple U)

Abstract:

Nearly three billion people actively use Facebook, making it the largest social media platform in the world. Previous research shows that the social media platform reduces users’ happiness, while increasing political knowledge. It also may increase partisan polarization. Working to build a scientific consensus, we test whether the potential negative effects of Facebook use can be overcome with the help of minimalist informational interventions that a parallel line of research has shown to be effective at inducing people to be more accurate and civil. We conducted a preregistered well-powered Facebook deactivation experiment during the 2022 French presidential election. In line with previous research, we find that Facebook reduces happiness, informs, and increases partisan polarization but only among college educated individuals. In contrast, we find little evidence that minimalist informational interventions in a field setting helped individuals who deactivated Facebook to seek out news, be more accurate or less polarized.


Thursday 29 February 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Michael Becher (IE Madrid)

Trade Origins of Proportional Representation (with Irene Menéndez Gonzalez, IE University)

Abstract:

While recent research on the origins of Proportional Representation (PR) in Europe has focused on domestic political explanations, we bring international trade back to the analysis of electoral system choice. First, we sharpen earlier arguments and specify the partisan trade theory of endogenous electoral institutions, which highlights how the misrepresentation of trade interests in parliament shapes support for PR. Second, we test the theory using district-level referendum data and a natural experiment during the first globalization in Switzerland. We find a robust positive relationship between the vote for free trade and the subsequent vote for PR. Moreover, within-district change in the protectionist factor was tightly linked to changes in the PR vote. Leveraging plausibly exogenous variation in the introduction of PR across cantons, we also find that PR reduced the underrepresentation of free trade interests. Altogether, our analysis highlights the overlooked importance of international trade for conflict over electoral institutions.


Thursday 07 March 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Jon Fiva (Norwegian Business School)

Gender Gaps and Hidden Majoritarianism in Proportional Representation Systems

Abstract:

The share of women in politics is higher, on average, under closed-list proportional representation (PR) electoral systems compared to majoritarian systems. Yet even in PR systems, progress toward gender parity has been slow and uneven across political hierarchies. We consider the role of a common institutional feature of party organization–seniority-based promotion–and argue that gender gaps in career progression can emerge either due to direct bias in the seniority system, or because majoritarian offices (such as local mayor and list leader) serve as important steppingstones that create bottlenecks in women’s career paths. Using more than a century of detailed candidate-level data from Norway, we find that advancement is generally gender-neutral across stages of a typical political career, but that gender gaps emerge at majoritarian bottlenecks. However, we also document how parties can employ workarounds to mitigate the adverse effects of these bottlenecks on women’s progression into higher offices.


Thursday 14 March 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Isabela Mares (Yale)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Speakers during Spring 2024

Thursday 04 April 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Lauren E. Young (UC Davis)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Thursday 11 April 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Alexander Kuo (Oxford)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Thursday 18 April 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Katerina Tertytchnaya (UCL)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Friday 26 April 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Rachel Bernhard (Oxford)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Thursday 02 May 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Eric Dickson (NYU)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Thursday 09 May 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Andrea Vindigni (University of Geneva)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Thursday 16 May 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Anselm Hager (Humboldt)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD


Thursday 30 May 2024 | Seminar Room 2

Melissa Sands (LSE)

Title TBD

Abstract:

Abstract TBD