This project is about the effects of institutional design on decision-making in the European Union. Specifically: delegation to informal inter-institutional legislative bargaining (the 'informal arena'). I develop a spatial complete information model to explain the decision to delegate to the 'informal arena' and test its empirical implications. The meta-theoretical umbrella for this project is New Institutionalism (more specifically, Rational Choice Institutionalism) and I view the decision to delegate through a principal-agent lens, i.e., delegation may result in policy outcomes that differ from counterfactual non-delegated acts (agency-drift). I contribute to the theoretical and empirical literatures on informal law-making in the European Union and legislative organisation more generally.
In the EU, the ‘formal arena’ co-exists with the ‘informal arena.’ In the formal arena, bills shuttle back and forth between two chambers in a maximum of three reading stages. In the informal arena, inter-institutional negotiations are delegated. The delegations meet behind closed doors and the resulting compromise is rubber-stamped by the parent chambers. The extant literature suggests that law-making in the informal arena leads to agency-drift.
The questions that I address in this project are: when does delegation to the informal arena take place and, equally, when does delegation not take place? Furthermore, does delegation lead to agency-drift?
My findings suggest that delegation is less likely, the greater the risk of agency-drift and more likely the greater the legislative workload cost of not delegating. I show that the bicameral system alters the incentive structure of legislative actors such that agency-drift is rare or moderate if it occurs.
Who gains legislative influence in early agreement negotiations (trilogues) between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union? Practitioners from both institutions suspect that it is the other side. Meanwhile, critics point at trilogues' lack of transparency. This article proposes that legislative power and institutional transparency are inversely related: Opacity makes an actor more influential in political negotiations. The argument is tested on a matched sample of legislative files from the 1999–2009 period. The findings suggest that the European Parliament became more influential in early agreement negotiations — where it became opaque vis-à-vis the Council. In such negotiations, the relative influence of the European Parliament substantially increased; by contrast, the European Parliament did not gain influence in negotiations where it remained transparent.
Data innovation for international development: An overview of natural language processing for qualitative data analysis
2017 in IEEE Proceedings of the International Conference on the Frontiers and Advances in Data Science (FADS) with Anna Hanchar article
Availability, collection and access to quantitative data, as well as its limitations, often make qualitative data the resource upon which development programs heavily rely. Both traditional interview data and social media analysis can provide rich contextual information and are essential for research, appraisal, monitoring and evaluation. These data may be difficult to process and analyze both systematically and at scale. This, in turn, limits the ability of timely data driven decision-making which is essential in fast evolving complex social systems. In this paper, we discuss the potential of using natural language processing to systematize analysis of qualitative data, and to inform quick decision-making in the development context. We illustrate this with interview data generated in a format of micro-narratives for the UNDP Fragments of Impact project.
Multilevel regression with post-stratification (MrP) has quickly become the gold standard for small area estimation. While the first MrP models did not include context-level information, current applications almost always make use of such data. When using MrP, researchers are faced with three problems: how to select features, how to specify the functional form, and how to regularize the model parameters. These problems are especially important with regard to features included at the context level. We propose a systematic approach to estimating MrP models that addresses these issues by employing a number of machine learning techniques. We illustrate our approach based on 89 items from public opinion surveys in the US and demonstrate that our approach outperforms a standard MrP model, in which the choice of context-level variables has been informed by a rich tradition of public opinion research.
While previous research has argued that the inclusion of civil society actors into civil war peace negotiations increases the durability of peace, including such actors into the negotiations seems contradictory to insights from bargaining theory. We ask why would the main belligerents agree that actors without fighting capacity get a seat at the negotiation table, have a role in drafting of a peace agreement, and even obtain peace benefits? We posit that non-warring parties are more likely to participate in peace negotiations in civil wars characterized by higher levels of civilian casualties. Belligerents incur substantial political costs if they choose to enter negotiations with a side in the conflict that targeted civilians as part of their strategy. By including civil society into the process, the negotiations gain legitimacy thus reducing the cost of negotiations. Empirically, we draw on data on intrastate conflicts in Africa from 1993 to 2007. We identify conflicts where civilians were systematically targeted by a belligerent side and show that with increasing levels of civilian casualties, it is more likely that civil society actors were included in peace processes.
The evolution of eurosceptic contestation in the European Parliament
with Lukas Obholzer
We provide a comprehensive analysis of change in eurosceptic contestation in the European Parliament from 1994 to 2019. Using novel preference data, we test whether increased euroscepticism is driven by replacement or preference change. Replacement takes place when Members of the European Parliament are replaced by more eurosceptic representatives. In contrast, when preferences of re-elected representatives become more eurosceptic over time, we refer to within-individual preference change. We disaggregate by policy and furthermore, we test whether more “extrme” members of eurosceptic parties are more likely to be re-elected in subsequent elections. Methodologically, we employ a Bayesian IRT model to estimate preferences that are comparable over legislative periods. Re-elected representatives' priors are set to the estimate from the previous term. This approach allows comparison over time and provides a measure of preference change: The difference between prior and posterior. We contribute to the growing literature on euroscepticism in the European Union by providing insights into the question whether increased scepticism takes place “top-down” where legislators become more eurosceptic or “bottom-up” where representatives are replaced by more eurosceptic legislators.
This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of eurosceptic contestation within the legislative arena of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2019. Under what conditions do eurosceptics behave systematically differently from their “europhile” peers, resulting in polarization along the integration dimension? We develop hypotheses on variation in polarization across policy areas, file characteristics, and legislator voting behavior. Drawing on roll-call votes in the EP, we map patterns of contestation — including polarization and eurosceptic cohesion — across policy areas and test competing explanations of voting behavior. Our theory identifies broadly correctly where the eurosceptic cleavage drives legislative behavior. We contribute to the growing literature on eurosceptic behavior within legislative institutions by showing that eurosceptics diverge from the europhile plurality in particular when voting on constitutional policies, but much less when voting on policies with distributive consequences. Combining the sectoral insights with our additional results, a picture emerges of what explains polarization and, potentially, eurosceptic cohesion.
Substantive representation of euroscepticism: Contesting European integration within the European Parliament
with Lukas Obholzer
While some eurosceptic members of the European Parliament (MEPs) engage constructively with legislative work, others opt for blanket opposition. This is reflective of distinct legislative roles of MEPs and results in differences in the representation of eurosceptic voters. We ask whether and under what conditions eurosceptics' behaviour within the European Parliament is shaped by the potential for public attention. Combining novel data on voting behaviour in committee-level as well as in plenary-level roll calls, we leverage the difference in public attention that the two arenas attract. Our analysis draws on variation in attendance and voting behaviour patterns across levels to test competing explanations of how and to what extent eurosceptic legislators contest European integration when in the “public eye” in plenary as opposed to more secluded everyday work in committees. The findings demonstrate that MEPs are mindful of the distinct principals and audiences to whom they pander. The paper maps the behaviour and contributes to a growing literature on legislative behaviour of eurosceptics.
In this paper, we examine how the intensity of a conflict and external involvement in civil wars determines the agenda in the subsequent peace negotiations. In particular, we demonstrate that solving commitment problems related to disarmament and ceasefires trumps other issues, the more intensive the conflict. Furthermore, we show that external involvement, such as mediation, influences the negotiation agenda. In particular, mediators prioritize statebuilding over solving grievances. We contribute by providing evidence for the inter-linkage between the fighting and the negotiation stages in a conflict. Furthermore, by using un-supervised natural language processing on 1135 peace agreement texts negotiated in the period 1990–2016, we identify sixteen commonly discussed topics in negotiations and explore how the salience of these negotiated issues changes over time. We employ structural topic models to link the qualitative content of negotiation texts to covariates such as conflict intensity and external involvement.