Mar 032013

How many votes polled the Front National in the 1993 election (12.7), and how much did they get in the first round of the Présidentielle 2007 (10.4)? Which party did control the German Foreign Office from 1987-1998 (obviously, the FDP)? What is the typical turnout rate in Slovenia (between 60 and 70 per cent over the last four parliamentary elections)?  If you need answers to these and similar questions, i.e. if you work in Comparative or German/French/Whatever Politics the Political Data Yearbook has been your trusty companion since 1992, saving you endless hours you would have to spend digging up references in odd languages.

For twenty years, the Political Data Yearbook was published as an addendum to the ECPR’s flagship journal EJPR. Last December, it became even better with the creation of the Political Data Yearbook Interactive, a website full of flashy and, well, interactive graphs. While they are nice to play with, for me the real game changer are the download links: Everything on screen and some more is freely available as CSV/XLSX, ready to be imported into Python, R, Stata, or whatever might be your favourite tool for data mangling. No more hours keying in things data already were digital before they ended up on the page in front of you.

I wondered briefly if this is sustainable, then realised that Wiley is not going to lose any subscriptions to the EJPR because of the data base. Quite to the contrary: People will love this, gaining Wiley some open data kudos and almost free PR. I’m sure, someone, somewhere even uttered the dread word “win-win”. political-data-yearbook-interactive

To celebrate the launch of the Political Data Yearbook Interactive, Wiley is kindly sponsoring a reception at the upcoming ECPR Joint Sessions 2013 at the university of Mainz. Since my extremely capable people are in charge of the catering (handcrafted bubbly – locally sourced, obviously), this is going to be splendid. If you are attending the conference (or just happen to be in the sector), don’t miss it. Thanks to these new-fangled social media things, you can even register your intention to participate.

Aug 292008

Everyone just seems to know that the voters of the Extreme Right hate foreigners in general and immigrants in particular, but robust comparative evidence for the alleged xenophobia – Radical Right vote link is scarce. Moreover, many of the published analyses are based on somewhat outdated (i.e. 1990s) data, and alternative accounts of the extreme right vote (the “unpolitical” protest hypothesis and the hypothesis that the Far Right in Western Europe attracts people with “neo-liberal” economic preferences, championed by Betz and Kitschelt in the 1990s) do exist. Just a few days ago, a journal has accepted a paper by me in which I test these three competing hypotheses using (relatively) recent data from the European Social Survey and a little Structural Equation Modelling. As it turns out, protest and neo-liberalism have no statistically significant impact on the Extreme Right vote whatsoever. Anti-immigrant sentiment, however, plays a crucial role for the Extreme Right in all countries but Italy. Its effects are moderated by party identification and general ideological preferences. Moreover, the effect of immigrant sentiment is moderate by general ideological preferences and party identification. I conclude that comparative electoral research should focus on the circumstances under which immigration is politicised. Wasn’t it blindingly obvious?

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