Work in Progress

Reinhard Heinisch (University of Salzburg) and I are happy to host the workshop “New Frontiers in Democracy Research: Tackling a Conceptual and Methodological Impasse” at the 2021 ECPR Joint Sessions. The workshop will take place 26 – 28 May 2021 and you can find more information about it on the ECPR webpage: https://ecpr.eu/MyEcpr/Forms/PaperProposalForm.aspx?EventID=150

Research on public attitudes and expectations towards parties and democracy

Several of my projects are concerned with the way people think about democracy and political parties. While we know that many citizens in Western democracy are not very satisfied, we have relatively little knowledge about their specific expectations and whether they are indeed willing to trade democracy for a non-democratic alternative. To shed light on this, I work on the following projects:

  • whether citizens are driven by normative democratic principles or rational party preferences when assessing parties’ pledge fulfilment; using survey experiments in Austria and Australia; with Reinhard Heinisch
  • which expectations citizens have towards how parties organize, recruit their members, and communicate; with unique surveys in Australia and the UK; with Reinhard Heinisch
  • whether citizens want a dictator when they show a preference for an undemocratic strong leader; with a conjoint experiment in Australia and the UK; with Feodor Snagovski

Populism and Democracy

The role of populist parties in democratic countries has been a hot topic for a few years now. Despite ample research on most aspects of this phenomenon — it’s causes, variants, and consequences — there is still a lot we don’t know. Currently, I work on three projects in this area:

  • do non-radical right populist parties adopt or adapt radical right populist positions; a dictionary-based text analysis of manifestos by Austrian, German and Swiss parties; with Fabian Habersack
  • why radical right populist and mainstream parties decide for or against different types of cooperation at the national level; a mixed-methods project; with Duncan McDonnell
  • how populist attitudes affect the ways citizens perceive and react to the Corona-pandemic; with a unique survey in Austria; with Reinhard Heinisch

Young people and democracy

While some research indicates that young people might be less democratic or more apathic towards democracy, there is still a lot to do to understand how young people relate to the body politics. Within this area, I mainly work on two projects:

  • young people in party youth wings; a mixed-methods study of Austrian and German party youth wings and their members (part of a larger comparative study); with Reinhard Heinisch, Duncan McDonnell, and Carsten Wegschneider
  • how young people interact with politics online; a unique survey in Austria; with Reinhard Heinisch

POLPOP II

Together with Patrick Dumont and Marija Taflaga, I joined the third phase of the POLPOP (Politicians’ Public Opinion Perception) project as the Australian team. We will survey Australian parliamentarians and survey Australian citizens about their perceptions of democracy, public opinion, and political decision-making.