"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

"Party Organization and Gender in European Elections" (Forthcoming at Party Politics)

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 (Revise and Resubmit 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. Available upon request. 

"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. 

"Electoral Goals, Organization, and Legislator Behavior"

This paper explores the relationship between national political parties and their legislators by investigating how party leadership can influence their members outside of the legislative process. I investigate the link between party organization and personal ambition in strengthening the programmatic representation of political parties. It contributes to the current literature on legislator-party relations by offering insight into individual and party goals and how these interact within the structure of elections and policy making. The effects of variation in party structures, individual political goals, and electoral systems on legislative behavior are tested in the context of the European Parliament. I focus specifically on differences in electoral goals, candidate selection, formal legislator supervision, and individual career experience as main determinants of policy congruence. Data on party organization, electoral goals, individual experience are combined with qualitative research to test the hypotheses of the paper. Ultimately, I conclude that centralized candidate selection procedures increases a legislator's congruence with the preferences of policy and vote seeking parties.  Available upon request. 

"The Consequences of National Institutions for Supranational Legislators within Party Organizations" 

This paper investigates the impact of national factors on patterns in national party organization for the selection and supervision of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Using classic theories of party development and organization, it argues that organization at the European level is the result of national institutional traditions and national electoral experience. Whether examining national institutions (party system, electoral system, or government characteristics and experience with the EU), or national party characteristics (ideology, party age, national organization), as indicators of European level organization, the results show that it is predominantly national factors that determine this organization. The results emphasize the strong role of national politics on European level party choices, and reinforce the existing literature that claims political parties have largely not adapted to European elections. Available upon request.