My research on the impact of nationalism and identity politics on electoral competition can be divided into two main areas:

1) Substate nationalist mobilization

Minority nationalist parties seek to represent the interests of national minority and regional groups in party competition. Their demands range from minority protection in the realms of culture and education to decentralization and secession. Why do some of them have more radical demands than others? 

Questioning that minority nationalist or regionalist parties per se undermine political stability, I investigated whether and how government participation, a cross-cutting economic cleavage and institutional and programmatic decentralization dampen radical and secessionist positioning among minority nationalist parties across Europe. Contrasting the view of minority nationalist parties as niche or single-issue parties, we proposed a theoretical conceptualization of party strategies in a two-dimensional political space that multinational countries and increasingly other countries are characterized by. To provide comparative data on party positions on ethnonationalism, I conducted with Christina I. Zuber (University of Konstanz) the expert survey on Ethnonationalism in Party Competition (EPAC). EPAC provides data on party positions on a range of issues covering more than 200 political parties in 22 multinational European countries in 2011 and 2017.

In our current book project with Linda Basile (Università degli Studi di Siena), Anwen Elias (Aberystwyth University), Nuria Franco-Guillén (Aberystwyth University), we investigate secessionist movements in ten Western European regions. We focus on the territorial discourses of regionalist parties and civil society organizations and analyze how independence became over time the dominant type of territorial claim in some regions, while the salience of independence claims has ebbed and flowed elsewhere between 1990 and 2020. In regions where secessionist claims have dominated and received strong public support, regionalist actors have diversified their arguments for independence. They have framed their independence claims predominantly in political and economic terms instead in terms of identity-related concerns. Instead of emphasizing grievances, regional actors have argued that independence will improve political representation, efficiency and accountability. Our book investigates both party strategies and the public support of secession relying on our novel Framing Territorial Demands (FraTerr) Dataset and a public opinion survey conducted in 2020. This book project will be a central output of two work packages of the EU Horizon 2020 Project “IMAJINE” (Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe).

2) Majority nationalist and right-wing populist mobilization

Together with Phil Howe (Adrian College) and Christina I. Zuber (University of Konstanz), I’m currently involved in a project on the role of group identities in electoral mobilization that focuses on the historical case the democratizing Western (‘Austrian’) part of the multinational Austro-Hungarian empire between 1897 and 1911. Our Habsburg Manifesto Dataset measures Czech and German historical political parties’ policy positions and identity appeals across four elections. This dataset is consists of manifestos and party programs that were qualitatively content analyzed following contemporary standards. Making use of this dataset, we investigated how the programmatic offer and national and class appeals of nationalist parties influenced their electoral success. The larger goal of this project is to contribute to the current debate on how identity appeals can be incorporated in party competition and voting models.

In several working papers, I explored how corruption, populism and the introduction of minority rights for national minorities influence electoral participation and electoral success. The common thread of these papers is the goal to take into account the interaction between the demand and supply-side of the electoral market.

Future research plans

In a future research project, I aim to analyze the domestic contestation of emigration in the EU’s eastern periphery. This project aims to fill an important gap in the literature on the impact of migration on European politics as current research almost exclusively focuses on the political consequences of immigration in Western Europe.