New article on the role of party socialization for legislative behavior

In a new article recently published in Legislative Studies Quarterly, Philipp Mai and Georg Wenzelburger investigate how the socialization experiences of Members of Parliament (MPs) at lower levels of their party affect how they vote in parliament. Exploiting the full set of recorded votes in the German Bundestag between 1949 und 2017, the authors show that MPs who did not hold party offices at the local or regional level prior to their first election into parliament have a significantly higher probability to vote against the party line in legislative votes. In addition, this ‘Ochsentour’ effect is largest for newly elected MPs and vanishes the longer MPs stay in parliament. To conclude, party socialization and parliamentary socialization are both important and complementary pathways to party unity in parliament.

Taking stock of what German governments do: Two new articles by Frank Bandau and Philipp Mai

In a recently published book, edited by Reimut Zohlnhöfer and Fabian Engler (Heidelberg University), two new chapters of the public policy team at the TUK have appeared.

In his chapter, Frank Bandau analyses the social policies adopted during the fourth Merkel government (2017-2021). His focus is on the determinants of three reforms during that time: 1) introduction of a basic pension, 2) a law on employment protection and safety at work and 3) temporary changes of the social security system during the Covid-19 crisis. He shows that the government of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats continued the expansive social policy of the previous government with the same composition, although far-reaching reforms were missing. Partisan theory and the veto player approach in particular, but also theories of party competition, offer useful explanations for the reforms that were carried out.

In the chapter co-authored by Philipp Mai, Moritz Link and Fabian Engler, the individual-level voting behaviour of members of parliament was analyzed and compared with previous Merkel governments (2005-2021). The first part deals with the determinants of dissenting voting behaviour. In those whipped votes, career-related characteristics in particular can be used to explain why MPs vote against the line of their parliamentary group more often (when they have longer parliamentary experience, do not run for reelection and were socialised in Eastern Germany) or less often (when they hold important offices and are electorally secure). The second part examines, on the basis of the Organ Donation Reform 2020, which factors influence voting behaviour when MPs are released from party discipline and face a conflict of values between self-determination on the one hand and collective interests and the state’s duty to protect the health of its citizens on the other. In addition to individual denominational and party affiliation, the socio-demographic composition of the constituency electorate are of major importance for MPs’ voting behaviour.

Welcome to Frank Bandau!

We warmly welcome Dr. Frank Bandau, who will be filling the professorship for Policy Analysis and Political Economy at the TU Kaiserslautern from this winter semester.

Frank Bandau studied political science, economics and media studies in Braunschweig. He received his doctorate with a thesis on welfare state structures and party effects and has since been employed as a research assistant at the universities of Bamberg and Heidelberg. Between 2019 and 2022, he filled the professorship for political science, in particular international comparative policy analysis, at the Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg. His scientific work centers on comparative welfare state research and party politics (with a focus on the crisis of social democracy).

We wish him a good start at TUK and will continue reporting news from the professorship here as usual.

Georg Wenzelburger left the TUK

Foto: Koziel

Georg Wenzelburger left the TU Kaiserslautern in September to take up a newly created professorship in political science with a focus on Comparative European Politics at Saarland University in Saarbrücken.

If you want to keep up to date with his research, please visit his institutional website and his personal website.

We thank him for being an academic role model and an approachable group leader for us and wish him all the best for his new position!

The public policy team at TUK

Fritz Thyssen Award (runner-up) for an article on migration policies

Great news: The paper “Migration policies in the German Länder”, published in 2021 in the “Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft” by Daniel Meyer, Jonas Philipp and Georg Wenzelburger, has been awarded the “Fritz Thyssen Preis” (runner-up). The award is given by an independent jury to the best three papers in social science in German language published in the last year. We are happy to have written the second best article, at least accoding to the jury…
To read the paper, please click here

Georg Wenzelburger


New article on the issue strategies of political parties during the 2021 German federal elections

A new article by Katja Demler has just been published in Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen. In the article, the author investigates the political parties’ handling of COVID-19 in their manifestos for the German federal elections 2021. The Corona pandemic and its consequences, which had a significant impact on social, political, ecological, and economic life over the past two years, was also said to have a significant impact on the 2021 federal elections.

Based on theoretical assumptions of saliency theory, issue ownership theory and issue framing, Demler examines the issue competition strategies of political parties represented in the German Bundestag during the 19th legislative period regarding the Corona pandemic. For this purpose, she analyzes their programmatic space for the Bundestag elections in 2021 by means of content- and frequency-analytical methods, focusing in particular on examining party-specific differences and commonalities with regard to issue strategies.

The analysis shows that the Corona pandemic as a valence-issue was given great importance in the party platforms. Here, it is evident that the established parties prioritize emphases on Corona issues in areas of their own Issue Ownership. Finally, the results also show that the Corona crisis is apparently not only to be understood as a valence issue, but also as a positional issue – an aspect that future work could take up and examine in more detail.

Katja Demler

Research on Housing Policies by Alexander von Kulessa presented at the Annual Conference of the European Real Estate Society 2022

After the University of Kaiserslautern organized the Annual Conference of the European Real Estate Society (ERES) 2021, this year’s conference took place mid-June at the Bocconi School of Management, Milan. The ERES conference is the annual gathering of all academics and practicians doing research on real estate. The conference is highly interdisciplinary and brings together researchers with backgrounds ranging from Architecture to Appraisal and Valuation, Corporate Finance to Corporate Real Estate Management, and from Urban Planning to Policy Research.

The keynote speech at the opening ceremony, entitled “Urban Revitalization and Redevelopment: The New Real Estate Frontier?” was held by the inspiring Albert Saiz, MIT, one of the leading scholars in Urban Economics.

The TU Kaiserslautern was one of the largest delegations in Milan with Prof. Dr. Björn-Martin Kurzrock and four members of his great team working on real estate economics as well as myself, one of the few political scientists at the conference.

I had the chance to present two studies. The first investigates ‘The Politics of Affordable Housing in Unaffordable Cities.’ I conducted Multilevel Regression Analysis of the affordable housing supply in Greater London and ‚Le Grand Paris‘ over the period 2010-2018, drawing on two novel datasets, covering the neighborhood as well as the municipal level. The paper analyses the spatial pattern of affordable housing supply as a collective action problem with residents on one and federal or regional policies on the other side, and municipal governments in between. The regression analysis finds that the location of new affordable housing units still strongly reflects local preferences and spatial inequalities, despite the political will by the French and the British Government to break the patterns of segregation.

The second research project, which I conduct with Sebastian Will from the University of Freiburg, investigates the question whether homeowners are more likely to be satisfied with their life than renters independently of the housing policy context, particularly the degree of tenure bias. To investigate that question we explored data from ten waves of the Eurobarometer survey (2010-2019) across 22 countries using multilevel regression analysis. In line with the literature, we find that across our country-sample owner-occupiers are on average happier than renters. However, the effect varies across countries. Our preliminary results indicate that homeowners as well as renters are happier in countries with more tenure neutral housing policies. Yet surprisingly, the owner-renter gap is higher in the latter countries. Our working hypothesis is that this effect can be explained by the fact that the democratization of homeownership often comes at the cost of little choice for low- and middle-income households but to jump onto the property ladder. Yet this jump may overstretch the financial capacities of those households. Further, it reduces mobility and hence to ability to adapt to unexpected (life) events. In that context homeownership might reduce instead of fostering life satisfaction.

Alexander von Kulessa
PhD-student working on Housing Policies

Welcome to Beatriz Carbone

Dr. des. Beatriz Carbone joined the Chair for Policy Analysis and Political Economy as a research associate in April 2022.

Her research interests are focused on right-wing populism, feminist political theory, Latin American politics, and postcolonial studies. We wish her a good start at TUK!

Brown bag lecture by Dr. Peter Ulrich

This week, Dr. Peter Ulrich from BTU Cottbus presented his dissertation entitled ‘Participatory Governance in the Europe of Cross-Border Regions: Cooperation – Boundaries – Civil Society’ at our brown bag lecture series. Dr. Peter Ulrich has been staying in Kaiserslautern during a shared desk phase as part of the project Linking Borderlands for the last two weeks. During his stay, we have advanced our work on identifying key stakeholders and networks in the SaarLorLux+ and Brandenburg/Lebus border regions. Additionally, Peter got to know the region and connected with other project partners from Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken.

Peter Ulrich’s presentation focused on border regions as well: In his work, he investigates the role of geopolitical and sociocultural boundaries for cross-border governance and civil society participation. This is closely connected to the question of democratic quality in European cross-border regions as citizen engagement in Euroregional institutions and politics is decisive for their legitimacy. Using the example of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, his study analyses and compares four cross-border Euroregional case studies: Tyrol–South Tyrol–Trentino, Galicia–North Portugal, SaarMoselle and the planned German–Polish TransOderana EGTC.

In the further course of the project, Stefanie Thurm will also stay at BTU Cottbus for two weeks to advance the cooperation between the project partners.

Stefanie Thurm

New article on blind spots and future avenues of Comparative Public Policy Analysis

A new article by Georg Wenzelburger and Carsten Jensen has just been published in Politische Vierteljahresschrift. In the article, the authors discuss blind spots of the blooming field of comparative public policy analysis and outline how a closer integration of policy process theories can lead to more fruitful research in the future.

Wenzelburger and Jensen state that cross-country comparisons have been taking front stage in analyzing public policy whichheavily rely on quantitative data. The authors identify four key weaknesses of this research, namely the obsession with covariance, the lack of agency, the unclear universe of cases, and the focus on outputs. Explaining these problems further, they illuminate the obsession with minor differences, opening the black box of collective actors, issues with enlarging the number of cases and the consequences of setting the focus on policy outputs.

After having discussed those limitations, they examine whether policy process theories may accommodate for these blind spots. They highlight that when it comes to the obsession with variance, a keener awareness of processes would be helpful. Additionally, an increased focus on actors and their actions, i.e., within-unit analysis of actions in context, can significantly enhance knowledge since actor preferences are not simply assumed but investigated qualitatively. Regarding the universe of cases, policy process theories might not be helpful on first sight, but there are advantages in gaining “internal validity” in single-case studies. Finally, the weakness of a strong focus on policy outputs in existing research can be tackled by applying policy process theories which have a greater focus on policy processes instead of outputs.

Wenzelburger and Jensen (2022, p. 14) conclude that “some of the weaknesses of existing comparative public policy research are not carved in stone but can indeed be remedied by carefully integrating policy process theories into the theoretical arguments and the empirical research design of comparative policy research”.

Meike Neußer