My current main research interests are (1) immigrant integration policies and (2) electoral mobilisation in Imperial Austria. In addition, I continue to be interested in (3) parties’ strategic behaviour in competition (4) ethnic parties and minority representation and (5) institutional design in divided societies. An emerging research interest is (6) democratic innovation, in particular the concept of “liquid democracy”, defended by the family of pirate parties.

1) Minority regions and immigrant integration

Between September 2013 and August 2014, data collection for this project was funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. It sets out to answer the following questions: (1) Which policy responses do minority nationalist parties in regional government give to cultural diversity resulting from immigration to ‘their’ region? (2) Why do some minority nationalists use regional decision- making competencies in the field of integration policy to create open societies, and others to tighten the boundaries of regional identity narrowly around the minority nation? To answer these questions, I compare and explain the integration policies of the autonomous regions of Catalonia and South Tyrol. I collected material through field research in both regions and am now working on a monograph. As a spin-off of this project, I am currently putting together a database covering the integration policies of all Italian regions and Spanish autonomous communities.

2) The electoral mobilisation of social identities: The case of imperial Austria

Together with Phil Howe (Adrian College) and Edina Szöcsik (University of Bern), this joint project studies electoral mobilisation in the Western (‘Austrian’) part of the multinational Austro-Hungarian empire between 1897 and 1911. The project has two goals: (1) to analyse the emergence, positioning and success of political parties in a democratizing multinational state and (2) to determine the circumstances in which ethno-nationalist mobilization dominates, given multiple alternative social identity categories parties could and did appeal to. We have so far developed an original coding scheme to measure the policy positions and group appeal of historical political parties. We will begin to systematically collect and code historical party documents with a team of multi-lingual student coders and put together a “Habsburg MP dataset” in May 2017.

3) Position, salience and issue linkage: party strategies in multinational democracies

This was a special issue edited together with Anwen Elias (University of Aberystwyth), and Edina Szöcsik (University of Bern). Together with a group of scholars from the fields of territorial and party politics, we analysed party strategies in contexts where the left-right and territorial dimensions have varying importance for state-wide parties on the one hand, and ethno-regionalist parties on the other hand. The Special Issue argues that position and salience theories of party competition can be combined and has recently been published in Party Politics.

4) Beyond outbidding – explaining ethnic party behaviour in competition

This was the topic of my cumulative dissertation that bridges the fields of ethnic and party politics to explain the strategic choices of ethnic parties in competition. To gain so far unavailable data on the positioning of political parties on an ethnonational dimension of party competition, Edina Szöcsik and I have conducted an expert survey between June and October 2011. Compiled on the basis of the collected expert ratings, our dataset on ethnonationalism in party competition (EPAC) covers the positions of 210 political parties in 22 multinational European democracies. The data from the first round is available for public use.  We have just completed the second with the data to be launched in spring 2017. Many of the insights behind this cross-national data collection effort were inspired by my field research in Serbia (April – June 2010) where I conducted interviews with elites of Hungarian and Bosniak ethnic minority parties.

5) Institutional design in divided societies

I have done research on the asymmetrical federalisation process that took place in Russia during the 1990s and on the first elections to the national councils of national minorities (institutions putting the principle of non-territorial autonomy for national minorities into practice) in Serbia. More recently, I have studied the relationship between reserving seats for representatives of ethnic minorities and substantive representation as a contributor to the SCOPES project on Ethnic Quotas and Representation of Minorities in Local Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, coordinated by Nenad Stojanovic at the Centre for Democracy Studies (ZDA) Aarau in cooperation with Analitika, Centre for Social Research, Sarajevo.

6) Liquid democracy

Together with political philosopher Christian Blum, I have been working on liquid democracy, a new form of democratic decision-making that promises to combine the merits of direct and representative democracy. In a first step, we have defined key features of liquid democracy and provided normative justifications why it could indeed be superior to classical representative party democracy. In the next step, we plan to analyse liquid democratic innovations within the realm of a system of representative democracy, e.g. as decision-making tools within parties (most prominently the Pirate Parties) and for citizen participation at the local level (e.g. Liquid Friesland in Germany).