The Politics of Portfolio Design

in collaboration with Ulrich Sieberer, David Schmuck, Koichi Osamura, Hanna Bäck, Andrea Ceron, Albert Falcó-Gimeno, Benjamin Giunaudeau, Isabelle Guinaudeau, Martin Ejnar Hansen, Kristoffer Kolltveit, Tom Louwerse, Wolfgang C. Müller, and Thomas Persson


The proposed research project studies the causes and consequences of changes in portfolio design. Building on a theoretical framework in which parties value ministerial portfolios for their influence over government policy, we analyse portfolio design reforms in ten West European democracies from 1970 to 2020. A team of country experts – all leading scholars in the field who possess the necessary detailed knowledge on country-specific rules – collect documents (decrees and laws) that contain information on changes in portfolio design. The research group will code ministerial jurisdictions using joint coding instructions based on the Comparative Agendas Project (CAP).



‘The political dynamics of portfolio design in European democracies’ (British Journal of Political Science)


Voter perceptions of coalition compromise

in collaboration with Carolina Plescia & Alejandro Ecker


Government formation in multi-party systems often requires coalition negotiations and finding common ground among coalition partners. Supporters of parties involved in the government formation process face a trade-off when evaluating such bargaining processes: on the one hand, voters usually prefer seeing their party being in government rather than in opposition; on the other hand, negotiations require coalition compromises that they might dislike. We study compromises voters are willing to accept.



‘Do party supporters accept policy compromises in coalition governments?’ (European Journal of Political Research)

‘Voter preferences on logrolling and compromise during government formation’ (with Alejandro Ecker & Carolina Plescia)


Who won the election? Media reporting of election results & voter perceptions

in collaboration with Katjana Gattermann & Katharina Wurzer


When reporting on election results, the media declare parties as election ‘winners’ or ‘losers’, which has important consequences for voter perceptions and government formation. We study how the media picks election winners and losers, and how voters respond to the framing of election results in the news. 



‘Who won the election? Explaining news coverage of election results in multi-party systems’ (European Journal of Political Research)

‘Party contestation and news visibility abroad: the 2019 EP elections from a pan-European perspective’ (European Union Politics)

‘Media framing effects of election outcomes on voter perceptions of winners and losers’ (with Katjana Gattermann)


Party campaign messages and media access

in collaboration with Martin Haselmayer & Markus Wagner


Parties and politicians want their messages to generate media coverage and thereby reach voters. In this research project, we study whether and how party campaign messages are taken up by the media: which party actors are most successful in getting their messages into newspapers? What kinds of issues are most interesting to journalists and editors? And which newspapers are most likely to report on what party's messages?



‘Partisan bias in message selection: media gatekeeping of party press releases’ (Political Communication)

‘Who gets into the papers? Media attention to party communication in election campaigns’ (British Journal of Political Science)

‘Fighting for attention: Media coverage of negative campaign messages’ (Party Politics)


Party policy positions on the left-right dimension

in collaboration with Markus Wagner & Heiko Giebler


The left-right dimension is widely used by voters and parties as a ‘super-issue’ with flexible, varying meaning. In this research, we argue that policy positions on this 'super-issue' are related to 1) positions on sub-dimensions such as the economy and cultural issues and 2) the emphasis that political actors devote to these sub-dimensions.

We argue that this affects how parties can shift their policy positions and how voters perceive party policy positions on the left-right scale. In addition to policy change on individual issues, parties and candidates can change their overall position by increasing their emphasis on certain opinions within an issue dimension. Moreover, we analyze the extent to which party policy positions on each subdimension influence party placements on the left-right dimension, and whether the importance of each subdimension depends on the salience of that subdimension to a party, voters, and the party system in general.



‘It sounds like they are moving: understanding and modelling emphasis-based policy change’ (Political Science Research and Methods)

‘How voters map party policy positions on the left-right scale’ (Party Politics)

‘Changing voter perceptions of party positions’ (Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties)

‘How do voters form perceptions of party positions?’ (British Journal of Political Science)


The architecture of coalition governance

in collaboration with Alejandro Ecker & Wolfgang C. Müller


Coalition governments are vulnerable to problems resulting from diverging interests of the cabinet parties, threats, and external shocks that may lead to premature government termination. To cope with these challenges, they typically employ mechanisms of mutual control.

In this research project, we study whether and how government parties combine mechanisms of mutual control to make coalition governance work. Moreover, we study the potential consequences of the architecture of coalition governance for a government's performance. 



'The Architecture of Coalition Governance' (with Alejandro Ecker & Wolfgang C. Müller)

'How and why coalition governance matters for cabinet survival' (with Alejandro Ecker & Wolfgang C. Müller)

The distribution of portfolio allocation payoffs in coalition governments

in collaboration with Alejandro Ecker


How are ministerial portfolios allocated in multiparty governments? While Gamson’s Law suggests that the quantitative allocation is proportional to party size, considerably less is known about the qualitative dimension of distributing ministerial portfolios. Building upon recent advancements in portfolio allocation research, we explore party preferences for individual portfolios and the associated policy payoffs.



'Fairness and portfolio allocation in multiparty governments' (Public Choice)

'Qualitative portfolio allocation in European multiparty governments' (with Alejandro Ecker)