Ongoing projects:

1) Past incentives, present choices. Ideational legacies and the contemporary politics of migration in European minority regions

In my book project, I develop a theory of ideational stabilisation to explain why and how historical legacies of industrialisation influence contemporary political responses to immigration. The comparative case study selects Catalonia and South Tyrol, two minority regions that cannot control their own borders, but respond very differently to immigration. South Tyrolean elites frame immigration as a threat and restrict immigrants’ access to social benefits. Catalan elites emphasise the opportunities of immigration, and grant social rights to “new Catalans” on equal terms. Tracing the development of political discourse on and the administrative management of immigration and integration in both regions over time, I show that and how historical experiences with the arrival of internal (that is, Spanish and Italian) migrants during industrialisation in the first half of the 20th century continue to define each region’s approach to immigration until the present day. The book contributes to debate about the causal role of ideas in comparative politics and policy studies and clarifies the logic behind popular legacy explanations of citizenship and integration policy in the field of migration studies.

2) Immigrant integration in multi-level systems

Some of the insights gained in the course of the book project inspired me to do additional research on subnational policies targeting the integration processes of immigrants. Anita Manatschal, Verena Wisthaler and I have just edited a Special Issue that provides the first internationally comparative analysis of the political causes and effects of immigrant integration policies designed by regional governments in Europe and North America. Our editorial (open access) is available here. In another article, I analyse the immigrant integration laws of regions in Germany, Italy and Spain and show that minority nationalist regions tend to adopt less inclusive integration policies, whereas left-wing regions facing right wing national governments opt to be more inclusive. You can access my data on German, Italian, and Spanish regional integration policies here. We are organising a webinar on 28 January 2021 to broaden this research beyond the countries studied in the Special Issue towards Latin America, Africa and Asia. Join us for the discussion!

3) Parties and Elections in Imperial Austria, 1897-1911

Together with Phil Howe (Adrian College) and Edina Szöcsik (University of Basel), this 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 nationalist mobilization dominates, given multiple alternative social identity categories parties could and did appeal to. The project also contributes the Habsburg Manifesto Data, consisting in a collection of election manifestos and party programmes of Czech and German historical political parties which were content analysed following standard practice in research on contemporary parties. The Habsburg Manifesto Data will be made available upon publication of the project.

4) Ethnic parties in competition and the EPAC data-set

Often, competition among ethnic minority parties is nested in a broader system of interaction with mainstream, non-ethnic parties. My theory of “nested competition” argues that ethnic outbidding is less frequent than assumed because imperfectly ethnically segmented party systems offer incentives for ethnic parties to moderate. To test the theory and gain so far unavailable data on the positioning of political parties on an ethnonational dimension of party competition, Edina Szöcsik and I 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. In 2017, we completed the second round of EPAC (EPAC 2017). We just published an article that uses the the 2011 and 2017 data to investigate whether decentralisation spurs minority party secessionism.

EPAC 2011 and 2017 editions are available, click here for access to the data!

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.


Completed projects:

Position, selective emphasis and framing: Party strategies in two-dimensional political space

This was a special issue guest-edited for Party Politics together with Anwen Elias (University of Aberystwyth), and Edina Szöcsik (University of Basel). 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. Our introduction argues that position and salience theories of party competition can be fruitfully combined and clarifies the strategic choice set available to parties in two-dimensional policy spaces.

Reserved seats and asymmetrical federalism

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.

Liquid democracy

Together with political philosopher Christian Blum, we contributed a normative analysis of liquid democracy, a new form of democratic decision-making that promises to combine the merits of direct and representative democracy. In an article in the Journal of Political Philosophy, we defined key features of liquid democracy and provided normative justifications why it could indeed be superior to classical representative party democracy.

Philosophies of causation and social science methods of causal inference

Together with methodologist Ingo Rohlfing, we clarified the relationship between theories of causation as discussed in philosophy of science and the methods used by social scientists to infer that “x causes y”. Aside from the theoretical clarification, we also did a survey to find out how researchers and methodologists using the full spectrum of small and large N methods of causal inference define causation, and which types of evidence convince them that “x causes y”. Our article was recently published in Sociological Methods and Research.