"National Political Parties and Career Paths to the European Parliament." JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. 56(6): 1283-1304. (2018)
This paper explores how career paths leading to the European Parliament (EP) are influenced by the strategic goals of national political parties. Considering both individual career factors and the national electoral fate of political parties, it determines what conditions increase the likelihood that experienced or inexperienced politicians serve in the EP. Experienced politicians are more likely to reach the EP when they serve vote-seeking and policy-seeking parties while inexperienced politicians are more likely to enter the EP when their parties are opportunity seeking. Overall, I find the role of individual ambition is conditioned by party strategy to determine the institutional composition of the EP, contributing to a growing literature on the strategic use of European elections by national political parties. It suggests that the electoral goals of parties should be examined in order to understand the nature of democratic representation in the European Union. Supplementary and Replication Materials
Diversity in political institutions, whether descriptive or substantive in nature, increases the heterogeneity of viewpoints represented in government. For this reason, increasing diversity within political institutions is often thought to be democratically desirable on both normative and positive grounds. However, political parties often monopolize the flow of politicians into these positions. This raises the question of when, and under what conditions, parties are more or less likely to diversify their electoral lists. I argue that party choices to nominate women to electoral lists are a function of their strategic electoral goals, their organizational structure for candidate selection, and the characteristics of the electoral environment. Parties are more likely to diversify their lists when facing electoral hostility and have centralized control over candidate nominations. Unfavorable electoral conditions create opportunities, and incentives, to alter the public face of the party and centralized selection mechanisms give party leadership a powerful avenue to do so. Overall, I examine empirically when it is electorally feasible and organizationally possible for parties to increase the number of women for elected positions. Leveraging the unique cross national electoral and institutional setting of European elections, I find that candidate selection procedures condition the effects of party strategy and characteristics of the electoral environmental on the percentage of women that European national political parties place on their electoral lists. The results provide insight into how strategic party choices, attenuated by electoral considerations and organization, impact the diversity of representation in political institutions.
"'United in Diversity?' Assessing the Effect of Varied Gender Quotas on Legislator Experience in the European Parliament" w/ William T Daniel (Forthcoming at Politics & Gender)
In this paper, we explore the connection between the promotion of women in legislative politics and its effect on legislator quality, following the 2014 European Parliament (EP) elections. As one of the largest democratically elected bodies in the world, the EP offers a particularly novel laboratory for the study of comparative institutional design, with EU member states allowed great latitude in the creation of both national-level rules for electing their legislators and party level rules for candidate nominations. Using information collected for all currently elected members of the EP, we examine how the relationship between party system and electoral system features meant to favor female representation – such as gender quotas for candidate selection or placement mandates on electoral lists – can help or hurt candidate quality and experience at the EU level. Our findings suggest that the EU’s famed motto of ‘united in diversity’ may have unintended consequences for the only directly elected branch of EU governing.
Selected Working Papers:
"Gender and Party Leadership Change” w/ Zeynep Somer-Topcu
While the number of women in political office around the world is on the rise, men continue to out number women at high rates in top leadership positions. There are many reasons why it remains difficult for women to reach powerful positions within politics that cover a myriad of electoral, institutional, and individual conditions. In this paper, we examine paths to leadership within political parties and seek to understand what conditions make it more likely that women are selected as party leaders. In particular, we investigate how the conditions under which party leaders resign are related to the gender of new party leaders. We also account for selection process across party institutions and competition for the leaderships positions. Using data from 135 leadership changes in nine industrialized democracies between 1980 and 2013, we find that women not only come to power under different political and reputation circumstances than men but that their selection as leaders is generally less contested and their terms as leaders end in less dramatic ways than men.
"Party Leadership Strength and Representation: Communication Policy Positions" w/ Susan Scarrow
In recent decades, party membership and partisanship have been on the decline (Mair 2013, VanBiezen 2012). As a result, party leaders have continued to gain more and more power vis-a-vis party activists (Cross 2013) even though some parties have deliberately sought to decentralize power in order to attract more voters (Tavits 2013). This paper examines one possible consequence of these changes by investigating the role of leadership strength for the communication of parties' policy priorities. Because higher levels of internal party democracy increase heterogeneity in party decision-making, it can be difficult for decentralized parties to define well-articulated goals (Katz 2001). The presence of a personalized leader can help to combat this ambiguity by presenting a unified face for the party. Using data from the Political Party Database Project (Poguntke, Scarrow, and Webb 2016) and European election surveys, we empirically test the effects of party leadership strength on voters’ ability to identify the relative position of parties in a variety of policy areas. By examining the relationship between citizens’ perceptions of party policy positions and the concentration of power within parties, this paper contributes to a growing body of literature linking ambiguity in party positions to electoral outcomes (Lo2014, Somer-Topcu2015) and establishing the conditions that lead to more or less ambiguous positions (Ceron2012, Greene2014, Schumacher2013). Available upon request.
"Losing Women \& Losing Power? Gender, Turnover, and EU Legislation" w/ Lauren Perez
This paper explores success and failure in the EU policy-making process by investigating the relationship between turnover and gender in the EU’s legislative bodies. High turnover rates increase the relative difficulty of policy-making by introducing inexperienced legislators and disrupting relationships (Atkinson and Docherty 1992; Matland and Studlar 2004). We argue that differential turnover across genders can exacerbate policy losses if women are leaving office at higher rates than men. Women are often viewed as more effective negotiators because they are more likely engage in cooperative bargaining, versus the competitive and distributive nature of male negotiations (Barron 2003; Babcock and Laschever 2003; Florea et al., 2003; Karpowitz, Mendelberg and Shaker 2012). Women are also better at consensus building, potentially making them more effective legislators (Volden, Wisemen, and Wittmer 2013). This paper analyzes the differential impact of turnover by examining the relationship between turnover, gender, and the success or failure of EU legislative initiatives. We argue that losing women during the legislative process has a significant impact on the negotiating process and increases the probability of failure. Available upon request.