„Dreiländertagung 2019“ – Zurich

View from the ETH Zurich during sunrise

Last week, Georg Wenzelburger, Pascal König (Goethe University Frankfurt), and myself travelled to Zurich to attend the „Dreiländertagung“ – the conference of the three German speaking political science associations of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland at ETH Zurich.

Georg Wenzelburger and Pascal König presented a current paper on “The electoral role of fiscal conservatism at both extremes of the political spectrum”: While both radical left (RLP) and radical right parties (RRP) claim to protect those most vulnerable to globalization, far-right parties are no staunch advocates of welfare. To examine how they can nevertheless attract citizens with strong pro-spending attitudes, they tested the role of welfare chauvinism, the effect of an anti-system stance, and whether the effect of an anti-system stance depends on the RRP’s anti-system credentials. Using data from the 2016 European Social Survey, Georg and Pascal found for five continental European countries with successful RRPs weak support for an effect of economically motivated welfare chauvinism beyond a general anti-immigration stance. But besides immigration preferences, a lack of political support formed a major factor for explaining why voters with strong redistribution preferences support RRP.

Georg Wenzelburger, Pascal König, Helge Staff (from left to right) in front of the main building of ETH Zurich

On the last day of the conference I presented my latest study in which I explore the usefulness of the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) to explain the length of policy processes during decision making. As a most time attentive theory the MSF should offer a good account of which determinants influence the temporal dynamics at agenda setting and decision making stage. In addition, my study aimed at contributing to the still small list of quantitative MSF applications by critically discussing and partly implementing recent suggestions of how to apply the theory in a quantitative manner. Empirically, I drew on the dataset of all German penal and security legislation from 1997 to 2017, collected during the research project “The Politics of Law and Order”. Although the results were mixed and much work remains to be done, the preliminary results support the MSF literature’s stance that during decision making it is the political stream which is most dominant and influential in shaping the policy process.

With many interesting, current, and methodologically sound papers as well as a welcoming and well organized structure, the “Dreiländertagung” in Zurich greatly helped to improve our current studies, and was a rewarding conference experience as well as a good chance to interact with researchers from all German speaking countries.

Helge Staff

(photos by Georg Wenzelburger)