Sep 162016
 

The good folks over at CEMES are running a lecture series on the “New Political Right in Continental Europe“. What’s even better: they have kindly invited me to talk about Germany. Here is the abstract of my presentation:german-far-right-copenhagen-0

For decades, Germany has been a tough ground for the Radical Right. Support for right-wing parties such as the DVU, NPD, or REP was inconsistent and mostly confined to the local and regional levels, chiefly because these parties remained tied to National Socialism, rendering them unpalatable to (most) voters. This has changed with the rise of the new “Alternative for Germany” (AfD), which, in September 2013, only months after its inception, came tantalisingly close to the five-percent threshold in the 2013 General election. Since then, the AfD has entered ten state parliaments and seems firmly on its way to become a national political force that will, at a minimum, make coalition formation much more difficult. This talk aims at giving an overview of the party, its relationship with the wider right-wing sector in Germany, and its position vis-a-vis other Radical Right parties in Europe.

Update: Slides are now available for viewing/download

Sep 052016
 

The result of yesterday’s regional election in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (aka Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for the initiated or Meck-Pomm for the impatient) was not a surprise, but still a shock to many. I wrote a short article for the LSE’s EUROPP blog.

Angela Merkel’s CDU came third behind the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the German Social Democrats (SPD) in elections in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania on 4 September. Kai Arzheimer writes that wh…

Head over to EUROPP – The AfD’s second place in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania illustrates the challenge facing Merkel in 2017 for the full article.

Jul 272016
 

In a press statement this morning, the AfD’s deputy leader Alexander Gauland (who is also head of the party’s chapter and the parliamentary party in the Eastern state of Brandenburg) has demanded a (temporary) ban on Muslims seeking refuge in Germany “until all asylum seekers in Germany have been registered, checked upon, and have their applications processed”. No, I don’t know how this should work in practice (if it was constitutional) either. But it’s nice step towards the Trumpification of European Politics.Refugee Ship Silhouette

Here is the (German language) source.

Jul 182016
 

1st guest blog ever:

Nach dem Brexit-Referendum bringen alle denkbaren Modelle für eine Neuregelung der Beziehungen zwischen Großbritannien und der Europäischen Union Nachteile: für Deutschland, für die EU – und besonders für Großbritannien selbst. Ein Verbleib Großbritanniens im Europäischen Wirtschaftraum (auch als „norwegisches Modell“ bezeichnet) wäre dabei für alle Beteiligten höchstwahrscheinlich mit den geringsten ökonomischen Kosten verbunden. Der Binnenmarkt – einschließlich der für London zentralen Finanzdienstleitungen – bliebe den Briten ohne größere Einschränkungen erhalten. Allerdings müsste Großbritannien nach wie vor einen Beitrag zum EU-Haushalt leisten und weitgehende Personenfreizügigkeit für EU-Bürger hinnehmen, ohne dabei die Regeln des Binnenmarktes mitzubestimmen. In gewissem Sinne würde Großbritannien damit mehr Souveränität abgeben als durch eine EU-Mitgliedschaft. Somit ist das ökonomisch Wünschbare kaum mit den politischen Zielen der „Brexiteers“ in Einklang zu bringen. Auch das Referendum befreit Großbritannien nicht von diesem grundsätzlichen „trade-off“.

Arne Niemann

Professur für Internationale Politik

Ko-Direktor des Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence “Europe in Global Dialogue”

Jul 142016
 

An update on the state of the Handbook of Electoral Behaviour

The forthcoming Sage Handbook of Electoral Behaviour has just “moved into production”. That is certainly a good thing, but no, I don’t know what that entails exactly either. Editing such a tome is great fun if you observe a small set of simple rules:

  1. Pick great authors whose work doesn’t need editing in the first place.
  2. Work with great colleagues who do the remaining bits of heavy lifting, and
  3. try not to get in their way.

Thanks to my following these golden rules, the book should be out in late 2016.

Draft chapter: Electoral Research and Technology – free for now

My own contribution has been rather modest: I’ve penned a (and finally revised) a chapter on electoral research and technology. That again was a fun exercise, as I’m going on and on about about the highly seductive structure of multi-level and other complex data, the joy of social network analysis, the temptation of spatial regression, and even (in passing) the adventures of Bayesian statistics. The cool thing about being one’s own editor is that there is not much editorial interference.

Now that the book is in “production” (see above), it should be out by the end of the year, but you can read the draft of “Psephology and Technology, or: The Rise and Rise of the Script-Kiddie” here. Heck, there is even a Psephology and Technology available for download.

Jun 252016
 

So Britain has voted for Leave. The BBC is providing coverage 24/7. And the most amazing thing? To me,  it is the deafening silence from the Conservative leadership and the Leave campaign.
The country has just held what might be the most important vote in a generation or more. Britain is divided against itself in all sorts of ways. The rest of Europe is jumping up and down excitedly. Foreign ministers and PMs across the continent try to calm down the markets and their people.
Meanwhile in Britain, there is zilch political leadership. No one is outlining any sort of plan. Boris,  the man who has supposedly won the campaign, has not been seen or heard since Friday morning. Cameron is doing business as usual, inspecting the armed forces. The rest of them probably had plans for the weekend, as opposed to plans for carrying out Brexit. For the outsider, it looks once more like bloody amateur night in British politics – a night that might last all summer.

image

Jun 122016
 
May 302016
 

Privately, I have referred to this piece as The Un-Dead Article, the Paper That Is Never Going Be Published, The Cursed Manuscript, or simply as It-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named. But you know, it’s the problem child we love the most. So: Our article “Political interest furthers partisanship in England, Scotland, and Wales” is finally out! If you don’t have a subscription (please check this first), here is an ungated link that works for a very limited number of visitors (please consider your fellow impoverished HE institution). And if everything fails, here is my pre-print version: Political Interest Furthers Partisanship in England, Scotland, and Wales.

United Kingdom Flag Map

The article argues, first, that the extant literature on party identification in the UK underestimates levels of identification, because it lumps together respondents from three different party systems (England, Scotland, and Wales). Second, we take the very useful model proposed by Clarke and his associates, who treat party identification as a latent class, and make a minor adjustment by adding political interest as an explanatory variable. As it turns out, political interest makes identification more likely. This is more in line with classic ideas about party identification than with “revisionist” critiques of the Michigan model, and with current models of political cognition. Moreover, it suggests that political interest renders affective ties more powerful in stabilizing themselves.

Mar 132016
 

A mere three hours after the event, it’s obviously too early to write something coherent about the three state elections that were held in Germany today. So let’s try it anyway:Ballot - Vote

  1. For the time being, Germany has a viable Radical Right Populist Party. A result of ~24% in the Eastern state of Sachsen-Anhalt is a bit of a shock, but no huge surprise. The real clincher are the (low) double digit figures in the Western states of Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg. In the latter, the AfD is stronger than the SPD.
  2. The AfD cannibalised all the smaller right-wing parties including the NPD.
  3. This was not (just) a referendum on Merkel and her policies. While the issue dominated the campaigns, personalities and state-level factors were important. And the two CDU leaders who toyed with a (very tame) rebellion against Merkel did not gain from it.
  4. The volatility is shocking. Period
  5. German states have parliamentary systems, but popular minister presidents exerted an almost presidential effect. The contrast could not be more striking: In Baden-Württemberg, Kretschmann’s Greens are the strongest party (in itself something that is hard to believe), whereas their junior partner, the SPD, is heading for single-digit territory. One key reason is Kretschmann’s enormous popularity. In neighbouring Rheinland-Pfalz, minister president Dreyer has always been more popular than both her opponent and her SPD. But the latter steadily recovered in the polls over the last couple of weeks pull ahead of the CDU to become the strongest party with a respectable result. The Greens, on the other hand, lost two thirds of their support and might still end up without parliamentary representation. Being the smaller party in a coalition run by a popular minister president is not an attractive proposition these days.
  6. Turnout is up, yet it’s the non-established AfD that benefits from it. As a rule of thumb, right-wing outfits in Germany have always performed best in low-turnout, second-order elections. But this time, exit polls suggest that at least in the East, former non-voters gave the AfD a huge boost.
  7. And the Liberals are back.