Sep 072013

Studying the Impact of Electoral Systems. Rather Remarkable Psychological and Mechanical Effects

During a momentary lapse of reason, Liz Carter and I decided to re-run our 2009 section on the New/Radical/Extreme/You Name It/Right. This resulted in two very agreeable days down in Bordeaux, with lots of interesting papers.

Compared to the last instalment four years ago, the most obvious change is that studying Radical Right parties in Central and Eastern Europe is now normal science, and that everybody is very excited about Golden Dawn. And everyone who is working quantitatively seems to do multi-level modelling now, which must be a good thing.

The papers are preserved here for eternity (or at least until the next major overhaul of the ECPR website). We would like to thank everybody involved, particularly the panel chairs and paper-givers.

Feb 022013
The Jewish presence at Mainz  probably goes back to Roman times. In the 900s, Mainz – Magenza in Hebrew – became one of Europe’s foremost centres of Jewish spiritual and academic life and retained that position for a century.

During the Middle Ages, relations between the Jews, the city, and the archbishops were tumultuous to say the least, but from the late 18th century, the situation greatly improved, and Jews gradually gained full civil rights and became well integrated. The community flourished, and in 1912, they built a new synagogue in the the Art Deco style in the heart of the “Neustadt” area, a new development beyond the limits of the medieval city, to accommodate their growing numbers.  All this came to an end in the 1930s, when the Jewish population of Mainz was driven into exile or murdered, and their synagogues destroyed.

Few Jews returned to Germany after the war.  During the  1990s, however, Jews from Central and Eastern Europe began to settle in Germany, and Jewish communities began to grow again. In Mainz, work on a new synagogue and community centre began on the site where the Art Deco building had stood. The new synagogue, designed by Manuel Herz, is a strikingly modern structure that nonetheless reflects traditions which are many centuries old.

One of my colleagues, who is head of the Israel Studies unit here at Mainz, has kindly agreed to organise a guided tour of the synagogue for the participants of the ECPR Joint Sessions. If you are interested, drop us a line.

Jan 312013
If you haven’t sorted out your accommodation by now, you have a problem. All the rooms we had pre-booked through the Mainz tourist board are gone. There seem to be a few rooms left in Wiesbaden, but they are going fast. On the local website, we have listed a some hotels which run their own systems, but most seem to be fully booked, too. Of course, there are sites like expedia, but last time I checked, that looked rather bleak, too. So, let me reiterate: If you haven’t booked a room yet, do it NOW.

If you can’t find something adequate in Mainz or Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Rüsselsheim and some of the smaller towns in the area are commutable. But it is important to act now. BTW, as of late, I feel like a travel agent.

Jan 282013
Radical Right buffs out there, have you submitted your paper proposal for Bordeaux yet? As you may or may not know, Liz Carter and I have put together a six-panel-section on the New Right for the 7th ECPR General Conference in September. The deadline is February 1, i.e. in just four days – submit your proposal now if you are interested at all (requires myECPR registration).
[accordion] [spoiler title=”Extreme Right and Ethnic Politics in Eastern Europe”]Radical politics is an enduring feature of democratic party competition in contemporary democracies across the globe. This panel will seek to advance our understanding of radical right politics by focusing on the relationship between ethnic minorities and radical right parties within the region of Eastern Europe. The panel will bring together a group of scholars from various sub-fields of the discipline to examine the roots and consequences of political polarisation and right wing extremism.[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Radical/Extreme Right Party Ideology, Strategy and Organisation”]Radical and/or extreme right political parties continue to be the focus of much media attention and academic research. Of course, the success of (some of) these parties in recent elections in large part explains the interest they arouse and the coverage they receive. But if we scratch a little deeper and start asking questions about why parties of this kind continue to post impressive electoral results in many countries, along with the context in which they compete, we must turn to examining the parties themselves. And if we do, we can start to notice changes in ideology, in strategy, and/or in organization, as evidenced, for example, by the French FN’s apparently moderated ideology, or by Marine Le Pen’s strategy to ‘open up’ the French right, or by Geert Wilders’ efforts to build up the PVV organization. Therefore, given their importance, this panel will focus on the parties of the ‘New Right’ themselves, and invites papers that examine extreme/radical right party ideology, strategy, and/or organization. We would like to encourage both conceptual papers and empirical papers that engage in comparative analysis [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”The Eurozone Crisis and the Radical Right”]This panel will consider whether – and if so, in what ways – the onset of the economic and Eurozone crises have enhanced or hindered political opportunities for the radical and extreme right-wing in Europe. This includes: reactions to the bail-outs and European political institutions; the role of Euroscepticism in radical right party campaigns, discourse and electoral outcomes; and the broader response of European electorates to the crisis, and their receptiveness or otherwise to radical right politics. The panel organisers are especially interested in papers that draw on innovative methodological approaches, are anchored in comparative analysis, and that consider both demand- and supply-side factors. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”The New Right and the ‘Squeezed Middle’: Service Sector Vulnerability and Populist Appeal”]Many explanations of populist New Right appeal have focused upon the role of economic insecurity as a motivation for supporting parties with exclusionary economic and social policies that target ‘true’ nationals over immigrants and other outgroups. The classic economic argument applied to countries such as France and Belgium finds blue-collar workers, as well as routine non-manual employees, attracted by populist New Right parties’ welfare chauvinism, moving away from the traditional Socialist and Social Democratic parties and class encapsulation. A sector argument finds public-sector employees in protected positions less open to such appeals than private counterparts open to external competition. However, the blue-collar group represents a shrinking proportion of European societies’ workforce and by extension electorate, and thus a decreasingly attractive target pool for entrepreneurial populist parties. Instead, through public-sector downsizing as well as decreased competitiveness, the current economic crisis threatens as much public-sector and service workers, still from routine non-manual but potentially to a growing extent from lower cadre / managerial positions. Whilst educational attainment has previously acted as a block on potential support for ethnocentric and xenophobic parties amongst these groups, the evolution of many of these parties’ positions to campaign more on anti-Islamist rather than traditional racist tenets may mean that these parties can appeal to the now economically vulnerable ‘squeezed middle’ in a way that was untenable in the past. This panel welcomes papers, either case-study or comparative, which look at the empirical manifestations of this dynamic, in particular how support bases for populist New Right parties have changed across time, socially and attitudinally. Papers should ideally use electoral or public opinion survey data, if developing micro-explanations, or census and workforce employment data for meso- and macro-approaches. Papers should not deal exclusively with theoretical or descriptive discussions of party ideology, or political economy explanations of insecurity.[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”The Populist Voter”]Why do people vote for populist parties? The extant literature is inconclusive on why citizens do so. Some scholars argue that people vote for populists because they agree with the ideology of these parties. Other scholars claim that populist voters are mainly driven by political dissatisfaction: they vote for populist parties because they are unhappy with the established political order. Also, it has been argued that voters primarily vote for these parties because of their charismatic leaders. We welcome papers that focus on these or other motivations to vote for populist parties. Moreover, we are also interested in factors that might impact on the populist vote choice, such as party system characteristics, the state of the economy, or socio-demographic variables such as education, income, age, gender and religiosity. We accept qualitative and quantitative papers on right-wing populism, left-wing populism or both. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”The Radical Right in the Post-Communist Context: New Perspectives on an Old Phenomenon”] Abstract:
The recent electoral performance of radical right parties in Central and Eastern Europe seems to confirm the pervasive appeal of these parties across the whole European space. To a varying extent, radical right parties in post-communist countries resemble a phenomenon sui generis, perhaps due to their historical legacies and/or the idiosyncrasies of their context. Parties such as Ataka in Bulgaria or Jobbik in Hungary list as recent examples of this, yet research says little about the commonalities and differences of these parties vis-à-vis similar parties in Western Europe. In brief, new perspectives are needed to assess this phenomenon in context.

This panel aims to bring together papers on radical right parties in Central and Eastern Europe, their voters, and/or their interaction. Papers that investigate the radical right in the region conceptually, empirically, and/or comparatively are solicited. Prominence will be given to contributions addressing the ideology of these parties; their organisation; their political opportunity structure; and those explaining their electoral performance. Papers employing new data and bridging qualitative and quantitative traditions will be especially welcome, but papers using either qualitative or quantitative methods will certainly be considered. [/spoiler][/accordion]


Jan 122013
Liz Carter and I are organising a rather large section on the New Right (aka Radical Right, Populist Right, Extreme Right) for the 7th ECPR General Conference that will run from September 4 to September 7 this year. With six quality panels, we can accommodate up to 30 papers, which is obviously great. More specifically, there will be separate panels on these topics:

  1. The Radical Right in the Post-Communist Context: New Perspectives on an Old Phenomenon
  2. The Populist Voter
  3. The New Right and the ‘Squeezed Middle’: Service Sector Vulnerability and Populist Appeal
  4. Extreme Right and Ethnic Politics in Eastern Europe
  5. The Eurozone Crisis and the Radical Right
  6. Radical/Extreme Right Party Ideology, Strategy and Organisation

Like our section for the Potsdam Coference in 2009, this should hopefully appeal to public opinion/electoral behaviour people as well as to those primarily interested in studying New Right parties. The conference will be held at Sciences Po Bordeaux (nice place, good food, and, in all likelihood, no hurricanes). While the website claims that the CfP will be “issued shortly”, you can (and should!) already submit your paper here. Don’t leave it too late – we’re looking forward to meeting you in September!

Jan 102013
With just two months to go until the 41st Joint Sessions of Workshops at Mainz, the local team is getting super-excited, if not slightly panicky. We have finally found funding for two drinks/finger-food receptions: a welcome bash at the university on Monday evening (5-7), and another reception on Wednesday night at Mainz City Hall following the Rokkan Lecture and price-giving ceremonies on Wednesday night. Would you please put this in your diaries? We would hate to miss you!

As always, you can follow us on facebook, on twitter (hashtags #ecprjs2013 and #ecpr), on this blog, or simply via the conference website. If you know someone who is going to the conference yet is blissfully unaware of  this whole social media shebang, be a chap and pass on the word.

Sep 302012
The 7th ECPR General Conference will be held at Sciences Po Bordeaux in September 2013. This is your last chance to submit  your panel proposal for our section “Perspectives on the New Right” (or for any other section) , as the deadline is October 5. Submit your proposal at: