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.
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
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.
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”.
The social democrats have won a landslide in the state of Saarland. For the TV station “Saarländischer Rundfunk”, part of the ARD consortium, Georg Wenzelburger has been invited as expert to comment on the outcomes on election evening. The interviews can be watched in the ARD Mediathek (see the links below).
From 21 to 23 March, we welcomed Dr. Carola Fricke from Freiburg University as visiting fellow in Kaiserslautern as part of the project Linking Borderlands. Carola Fricke has studied political science, geography and public law and has published her dissertation on the European dimension of metropolitan policies. Since then, she conducted research on topics related to cross-border cooperation, policy learning and regional planning, among others.
With her interdisciplinary background, she could offer a distinctive perspective that was particularly helpful for our subproject Policy Borderlands which is concerned with policy learning in cross-border regions. Carola Fricke offered valuable insights on theoretical as well as empirical questions which we are currently concerned with in the project. Among others, we discussed an analytical framework on policy learning in cross-border contexts that we developed in the course of 2021 and that will be published in 2022. We also spoke about methodological approaches to trace policy learning and explored the possibilities of methods such as focus groups and planning games. Carola’s stay was completed by a meeting with Benjamin Blaser und Nino Pfundstein, both researchers at the department of spatial and environmental planning from TU Kaiserslautern who work in the subproject Planning Borderlands. Carola’s multi-disciplinary perspective has helped to further pursue intersections between the two subprojects which we are looking to expand in the upcoming months.
A new volume titled “Umbruch, Zerfall und Restauration − Der Nahe Osten im Spannungsfeld regionaler Akteure und externer Mächte” jointly edited by Hakan Akbulut, Steffen Hagemann and Anja Opitz appeared with Nomos in February 2022. The volume examines the causes, the current state and prospects of upheavals and changes in the MENA region in the past 10 years focusing on the objectives and strategies of selected actors from the region (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel) as well as of external powers (USA, EU, Russia, Turkey), while Syria and Iran represent cross-cutting issues. The focus is on uncovering the interplay of internal and external factors of influence. The contributions show, on the one hand, how external factors affect both the region and individual states while domestic factors, on the other hand, impact regional and global networks of relationships and developments.
Hakan Akbulut contributed two chapters to the volume. In his first article, he explores why former US President Donald J. Trump (along with Republican Congressmen and Congresswomen as well as the former Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, among others) rejected the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, what the declared objectives of the “strategy of maximum pressure” were, how this strategy was implemented and which results it produced both in terms of Iran’s nuclear capabilities as well as pertaining to regional security and stability. In his second contribution, Hakan Akbulut shows how the war in Syria has been adversely affecting the relationship between the two NATO allies Turkey and the United States. While arguing that relations between Turkey and the United States have usually been volatile and thus seldom free of friction, he makes the case for considering the peculiarities of the Syrian case in order to understand the downturn in relations in recent years and the severity of the current crisis. He shows how diverging threat perceptions and priorities moved the two NATO countries toward partnering with different actors afield viewed as posing a threat by the respective other party.
On Friday, 03 December, we had the opportunity to learn about the theory and methods of social network analysis from Professor Volker Schneider, University of Konstanz. Volker Schneider is a known expert of network analysis and has contributed strongly to the development of the field as well as published a large array of works in this area. The workshop was organized jointly with the TUK Nachwuchsring, an organization that supports young scientists from TU Kaiserslautern.
In the first half of the workshop, Volker Schneider spoke about the theoretical and conceptual background of social and policy network analysis. Afterwards, the participants had the chance to apply the learned knowledge by creating data matrices and network diagrams, using the software Visone. In the upcoming second part of the workshop which will take place in January, we are going to learn about further applications of network analysis, including the analysis and visualization of two-mode networks.