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“Roll-Call Voting Under Random Seating Assignment” with David Darmofal and Charles J. Finocchiaro. Forthcoming. Political Science Research and Methods. pdficon_small 

Social connections between individuals can profoundly impact their political behavior. A growing body of research on legislative politics examines how spatial proximity to fellow legislators affects voting behavior within the institution. However, studies that examine this question often suffer from a fundamental identification problem in which proximity effects may reflect actual behavioral diffusion between members or, instead, homophily, in which legislators of a similar political feather flock together. We overcome this observational equivalence by exploiting a unique random seating lottery for seating assignments in the world’s oldest existing parliament, Iceland’s national legislature, Alþingi. Utilizing this naturally-occurring randomization, we employ spatial analyses of more than 20,000 estimates of spatial dependence and find little evidence that seating proximity leads to similar voting behavior by members in this legislative context.

“Pieces of the Puzzle: Coalition Formation & Tangential Preferences” with Patrick Dumont, Albert Falcó-Gimeno, & Daniel Bischof. 2023. West European Politics. pdficon_small

The similarity of parties’ policy preferences has long been considered an important determinant of whether they form a government coalition. That similarity has typically been taken to mean that the parties are in close proximity in some policy space. Policy preferences are, however, only partially described by the parties’ location in the policy space: the degree to which parties care about different issues may also vary. Parties that care about different issues may actually be the most compatible partners, as their tangential preferences would allow them to engage in policy logrolling and enable them to preserve their distinctiveness in the eyes of voters. We test arguments regarding the role of tangentiality and its interaction with policy proximity on the party composition of governments formed in Western Europe from 1945 to 2019. We find that parties that emphasize the same issues are more natural coalition partners. However, we show that this effect disappears as parties’ ideological differences grow, and that the tangentiality of their preferences would actually help quite distant parties form coalitions together.

“Betting on the Underdog: The Influence of Social Networks on Vote Choice” with Annika Fredén & Ludovic Rheault. 2022. Political Science Research & Methods 10(1): 198-205. pdficon_small

People are commonly expected not to waste their vote on parties with small probabilities of being elected. Yet, many end up voting for underdogs. We argue that voters gauge the popular support for their preferred party from their social networks. When social networks function as echo chambers, a feature observed in real-life networks, voters overestimate underdogs’ chances of winning. We conduct voting experiments in which some treatment groups receive signals from a simulated network. We compare the effect of networks with a high degree of homogeneity against random networks. We find that homophilic networks increase the level of support for underdogs, which provides evidence to back up anecdotal claims that echo chambers foster the development of fringe parties.

“Re-election or Career Advancement? Determinants of Parliamentary Speech-making in Iceland” with Agnar Freyr Helgason & Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson. 2021. In Hanna Bäck, Marc Debus, & Jorge M. Fernandes, eds., The Politics of Legislative Debate Around the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

“It’s Not Only What You Say, It’s Also How You Say It: The Strategic Use of Campaign Sentiment” with Charles Crabtree, Matt Golder, and Thomas Gschwend. 2020. Journal of Politics 82(3): 1044 – 1060.   pdficon_small 

What explains the type of electoral campaign run by political parties? We provide a new perspective on campaigns that focuses on the strategic use of emotive language. We argue that the level of positive sentiment parties adopt in their campaigns depends on their incumbency status, their policy position, and objective economic conditions. We test these claims with a novel dataset that captures the emotive language used in over 400 party manifestos across eight European countries. As predicted, we find that incumbent parties, particularly incumbent prime ministerial parties, use more positive sentiment than opposition parties. We find that ideologically moderate parties employ higher levels of positive sentiment than extremist parties. And we find that all parties exhibit lower levels of positive sentiment when the economy is performing poorly but that this negative effect is weaker for incumbents. Our analysis has important implications for research on campaign strategies and retrospective voting.

“Perceptions of Coalition Policy” with Shaun Bowler and Thomas Gschwend. 2020. Journal of Politics 82(4): 1458-1473.  

We examine how voters form expectations about the policy positions of coalition governments. The literature generally assumes that voters believe the influence of coalition parties on government policy is proportional to the coalition parties’ sizes. Yet little is known about whether, or how, voters form such expectations. In this paper, we leverage data from Austria, Germany, and Sweden and find that voters do not see coalition party influence as proportional. Voters take account of the coalition parties’ bargaining strength, perceiving smaller coalition parties to have disproportional influence on coalition policy. In other words, voters who live under and vote for coalition governments have a somewhat different sense of policy outcomes than the literature currently suggests.

“A Rational Choice Perspective on Political Executives” with Christopher Kam. 2021. In Rudy Andeweg, Robert Elgie, Ludgar Helms, Juliet Kaarbo, and Ferdinand Müller-Rommel, eds., Oxford Handbook of Political Executives, 91-109. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pdficon_small 

Rational choice theory has shaped the study of executive politics in important ways. We contend most of the literature on executive politics employing rational choice approaches can be seen as relying on two related problems that all executives confront: credible commitment and delegation. We briefly review the key components of rational choice theory that distinguish it from other theoretical approaches. We then examine how the two different problems have different expressions in parliamentary and presidential systems.

“Iceland: Political Change and Coalition Politics” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson. 2021. In Torbjörn Bergman, Hanna Bäck, and Johan Hellström, eds., Coalition Governance in Western Europe, 324-356. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pdficon_small 

This chapters surveys political developments with regard to coalition politics and coalition governance in Iceland over the past 30 years.

“Luck of the Draw? Private Members’ Bills & the Electoral Connection” with Brian Williams. 2018. Political Science & Research Methods 6(2): 211-227 pdficon_small pdficon_small

The legislative agenda in most parliamentary systems is controlled tightly by the government and bills offered by individual members of parliament have low rates of success. Yet, MPs do seek to present (private) members’ bills even where the rate of adoption is very low. We argue that members’ bills serve as an electoral connection but also as an opportunity for MPs to signal competence to their co-partisans. To demonstrate the presence of an electoral connection we take advantage of the random selection of private members’ bills in the New Zealand House of Representatives and show that survey respondents approve more of electorate MPs whose bills were drawn on the ballot. In addition, we show that MPs respond to the incentives created by the voters and parties’ willingness to reward legislative effort and, consequently, that electorally vulnerable legislators are more likely to place members’ bills on the ballot.

“The Role of Parliament under Ministerial Government” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson. 2018. Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration14(1): 149-166. pdficon_small 

The article examines the preconditions for ministerial government in Iceland and the role of parliament in sustaining it. Ministerial government is a form of coalition governance where the division of portfolios between parties functions as the basic mechanism of managing coalitions. Ministers are policy dictators in the sense that they control their ministries without interference from their coalition partners. Ministerial government is considered a weak form of coalition governance in the literature on account of its susceptibility to principal-agent problems, i.e., the temptation of ministers to adopt policies that are beneficial to their own party, or themselves, even if they are harmful to the coalition as a whole. We argue that ministerial government was the guiding principle of coalition governance in Iceland prior to the crash of 2008. We demonstrate that given a number of conditions, ministerial government can in fact function effectively in the sense of providing the necessary minimum of inter-coalition checks. Instead of the cabinet providing oversight, however, the parties and committees in parliament play a key role in controlling policy drift. For a number of reasons, the financial crash in Iceland undermined some of the features on which ministerial government rested and coalition co-ordination after the crash has diverged significantly from the preceding period. It is too early, however, to tell whether these represent a permanent shift in coalition management in Iceland.

“Primaries and Legislative Behavior” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson. 2018. In Robert G. Boatright, ed., Handbook of Primary Elections, 335-353. pdficon_small pdficon_small 

While elections in closed list proportional representation systems generally provide individual MPs with little incentive to build a personal vote, the use of primaries for the establishment of party lists increases the need of MPs to distinguish themselves from their co-partisans. It has been argued that the importance of the personal vote undermines or weakens political parties but, when it comes to parliamentary systems, it is not clear whether the incentives created by primary elections are significant enough to affect the parties’ ability to pursue their legislative agenda. We contrast two perspectives on MPs’ motives with regard to legislative behavior. An electoral perspective, in which MPs are assumed to be guided by the prospects of winning reelection (which may involve contesting a primary), and a party perspective, in which parties are recognized as gatekeepers of positions of power within the legislature and the executive. We examine legislative behavior in the Icelandic Alþingi in order to evaluate the implications of primaries according to each of the perspectives. Iceland is a useful venue for exploring the effects of primaries as they are common but are not universally employed.

“Let’s Just Agree to Disagree: Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Coalition Agreements” with Shaun Bowler, Thomas Bräuninger, and Marc Debus. 2016. Journal of Politics 78(4): 1264-1278. pdficon_small pdficon_small

The analysis of coalition politics is a major research area in the field of comparative government. Much is known about the factors that drive government formation, office allocation, and cabinet survival. There is a growing, but still small, literature on the conflict within coalition governments. Coalition agreements represent not only a programmatic statement for electoral purposes but also a contract governing future disputes between partners. There is a trade-off between making policy agreements in the first place (and delegating implementation to the portfolio minister) and postponing the resolution of the issue (and taking the risks involved in future dispute settlement). More specifically, a higher degree of ideological conflict within a coalition makes it more difficult for coalition parties to agree on the government’s agenda. In the same vein, ideologically heterogeneous coalitions are more likely to provide for procedural rules for future dispute settlement in their coalition contracts. We test our theory on all written coalition agreements from the German Länder between 1990 and 2013. Focusing on coalition governance in the German Länder allows us to isolate the effects of ideology and the bargaining situation while holding the institutional environment constant. In addition, the basic pattern of party competition and coalition formation is similar across the Länder. The empirical results support our main argument: When intra-coalition conflict is high, parties write down shorter coalition contracts but are more precise on writing down procedural rules for conflict resolution.

“Re-electing the Culprits of the Crisis? Elections in the Aftermath of a Recession” with Eva H. Önnudóttir, Hulda Thorisdottir, and Ólafur Þ. Harðarson. 2017. Scandinavian Political Studies. 40(1): 28-60. pdficon_small 

Theories of economic voting and electoral accountability suggest that voters punish incumbent governments for poor economic conditions. Incumbents are thus expected to suffer substantially during significant economic crises but their successors in office will face the difficult task of reviving the economy. The economic crisis may, therefore, negatively affect government parties in subsequent elections even though the economic conditions may, to a large degree, have been inherited from the previous government. We argue that economic conditions play an important role in such circumstances as they place specific issues on the agenda, which structure the strategies available to the parties. We study the 2013 Icelandic parliamentary election in which the incumbent government parties suffered a big loss despite having steered the country through an economic recovery. While perceptions of competence and past performance influenced party support, three specific issues thrust on the agenda by the economic crisis – mortgage relief, Icesave, and EU accession/negotiations – help explain why the centre-right parties were successful in returning to the cabinet.

“Austerity and Niche Parties: The Electoral Consequences of Fiscal Reform” with Jana Grittersova, Ricardo Crespo, and Christina Gregory. 2016. Electoral Studies 42:276-289. pdficon_small 

Austerity policies – policies of sharp reductions of a government’s budget deficit involving spending cuts and tax increases — are claimed to boost support for radical political parties. We argue, counter to popular claims, that austerity measures actually reduce support for radical and niche parties. Austerity policies force traditional left-right politics to the forefront of political debate with the traditional mainstream parties having a stronger ownership over those issues. We systematically explore the impact of austerity measures on the electoral fortunes of niche parties in 16 developed countries over a 35-year period, while controlling for a number of socio-economic variables. We find that austerity policies that rely on tax increases affect radical parties on the left and the right in different ways than fiscal adjustments based on spending cuts.

“Primary Consequences: The Effects of Candidate Selection Through Party Primaries in Iceland” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson. 2015. Party Politics 21(4): 565-576.  

Are the effects of candidate selection through party primaries largely disruptive for political parties or do they have some redeeming features? Icelandic parties have used inclusive nomination procedures since the early 1970s on a scale that is without parallel in other parliamentary democracies. The Icelandic primaries thus offer a unique opportunity to study the effects of primaries in a context that is quite distinct from the most studied primary election system, i.e. the U.S., which is characterized by federalism, presidential government and two-party competition. Our findings indicate that despite four decades of primaries, the Icelandic parties remain strong and cohesive organizations, suffering almost none of the ailments predicted by critics of primary elections. We are careful to point out, however, that context matters and the way parties have adapted also plays a role.

“Democratising candidate selection in Iceland” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson 2015. In Giulia Sandri, Antonella Seddone and Fulvio Venturino, eds., Party Primaries in Comparative Perspective, 161-180. pdficon_small 

Book abstract: Primary elections for choosing party leaders and candidates are now becoming commonplace in Europe, Asia and America but questions as to how much they hinder a partyâ’s organizational strength and cohesion or affect electoral performance have largely been ignored outside of the USA. Party Primaries in Comparative Perspective gives a much-needed conceptualization to this topic, describing the function and nature of primary elections and providing a comparative analytical framework to the impact of primaries on the internal and external functioning of political parties. Elaborating on the analytical tools developed to study the US experience this framework engages with primary elections in Europe and Asia offering a theoretical, comparative and empirical account of the emergence of party primaries and an invaluable guide to internal electoral processes and their impact.

“The Collapse: Economic Considerations in Vote Choice in Iceland.” 2014. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties 24(2): 134-159. pdficon_small 

This paper examines the consequences of the collapse of the Icelandic banking system in the fall of 2008 on voters’ support for the political parties. The literature on economic voting has demonstrated that voters hold governments accountable for past economic outcomes but such concerns should be especially salient in times of large scale economic crisis such as that experienced by Iceland. In such cases, where the cause is more likely to be seen as the consequence of policies having to do with organization of the economy and, in particular the banking sector, rather than a consequence of short term economic management, the question of who voters hold accountable is of particular interest.

“Girls Against Boys: Primaries in a Proportional Representation System” with Ásdís Jóna Sigurjónsdóttir. 2014. Representation 50(1): 27-40. pdficon_small 

Candidate selection in proportional representation systems is rarely conducted by primaries. We describe and examine primary elections where a number of parties, over a number of elections, have employed primaries to produce list for proportional representation effects. The electoral system employed is unique and we analyze the incentives the system creates for strategic behavior for candidates and voters. The primary elections also allow us an unique opportunity to consider the effects of gender on candidate success in a setting where confounding factors such as party ideology or the competitiveness of the parties can only have limited effects. As the elections we study involve not the selection of individual candidates but party lists via preferential vote we can also examine whether primary voters seek to produce balanced lists.

“Expressive Motives and Third-Party Candidates.” 2013. Journal of Theoretical Politics 25(2): 182-213.pdficon_small 

The motives of ‘third-party’ candidates in plurality and majority run-off elections are somewhat of a puzzle. Almost by definition, third-party candidates do not stand a chance of winning elections so their motives must derive simply from a desire to be in the limelight of politics or perhaps from a hope of drawing attention to particular issues in the event that it will be co-opted by one of the major candidates. A third possibility, explored here, is that the strategic actions of other candidates and voters lead to policy outcome favorable to the third-party candidate and his constituency. In the paper I explore whether there exist conditions under which this is the case. In plurality rule systems the opposite is a more likely scenario — the presence of a third-party candidate leads the major party candidates to position themselves away from the median voter and further away from the third-party candidate’s constituency. Majority run-off systems, on the other hand, provide third-party candidates with a greater opportunity to run for office without adversely influencing (from their supporters’ point of view) the outcome.

“Making Words Count: Coalition Agreements & Cabinet Management” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson. 2013. European Journal of Political Research 52(6): 822-846. pdficon_small pdficon_small

“Determinants of Cabinet Size” with Shaun Bowler. 2013. European Journal of Political Research 53(2): 381-403. pdficon_small pdficon_small

A large literature examines the composition of cabinets in parliamentary systems, but very little attention has been paid to the size of those cabinets. Yet not only is the size of the cabinet related to the division of portfolios that may take place, cabinet size is also related to policy outcomes. In this paper, we consider a theory of party size that examines how coalition bargaining considerations, intra-party politics, and efficiency concerns affect the size of cabinets. We examine hypotheses derived from the theory using an extensive cross-national dataset on coalition governments that allows us to track changes in cabinet size and membership both across and within cabinets.

“Uncertainty, Complexity, and Gamson’s Law” with Albert Falcó-Gimeno. 2013. West European Politics 36(1): 221-247. pdficon_small 

According to Gamson’s Law, the allocation of cabinet portfolios in parliamentary democracies is proportional to the government parties’ legislative seat shares. However, portfolio allocation departs systematically away from perfect proportionality. In this paper, we propose a theory of portfolio allocation that seeks to explain the variance in proportionality across different bargaining situations. We argue that the degree to which the coalition formation process is characterized by uncertainty and complexity influences portfolio allocation. In uncertain and complex bargaining situations, parties that otherwise would be in an advantageous bargaining position will have a difficult time exploiting their bargaining advantage. As a result, portfolio allocation in such circumstances will be closer to proportionality. We observe these patterns in data on coalition formation in 14 West European parliamentary systems in the period 1945-1999.

“Hvað voru kjósendur að hugsa? Forsetakosningar á Íslandi 2012” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson and Viktor Orri Valgarðsson. 2012. Icelandic Journal of Politics and Administration 8(2): 221-244. pdficon_small 

“Proportional Representation, Majoritarian Legislatures, & Coalitional Voting.” 2011. American Journal of Political Science 55(4): 955-971. pdficon_small   

Voters in elections under plurality rule face relatively straightforward, and well-documented, incentives when it comes to voting. Voters in proportional representation systems face more complex incentives as electoral outcomes don’t translate as directly into policy outcomes as is the case in plurality rule elections. A common approach is to assume electoral outcomes translate into policy as a vote-weighted average of all the party platforms. Most of the world’s legislatures are, however, majoritarian institutions and elections in proportional representation systems are generally followed by a process of coalition formation. I consider models of proportional representation that take account of the majoritarian nature of legislatures and demonstrate that existing results are not robust to the introduction of minimal forms of majoritarianism. Voters’ incentive to engage in strategic voting are shown to depend on considerations about the coalitions that may form after the election. In line with the empirical findings in the literature, the voters’ equilibrium strategies are shaped by policy balancing and the post-electoral coalition bargaining situation, which includes considerations about who will be appointed the formateur.

“Coalition Formation and Polarisation.” 2011. European Journal of Political Research 50(5): 689-718. pdficon_small 

Party ideology plays an important role in determining which government coalitions form. Research on coalition formation generally focuses on the ideological leanings of the coalition parties. However, the distribution of preferences within legislatures can also have important implications for which government coalition forms, i.e., a party’s willingness to join a coalition depends not only on its prospective coalition partners but also the alternatives the party has. Several hypotheses about the effects of legislative polarization are offered and tested on a large data set on coalition formation in 17 parliamentary democracies in the postwar period. The paper also demonstrates how the traditional measure of ideological divisions within coalitions fails to capture certain aspects of ideological heterogeneity within the cabinet (and the opposition) and how Esteban & Ray (1994) measures of polarization helps addressing these deficiencies.

“Dramatic Shifts” with Svanur Kristjánsson. 2011. In Torbjörn Bergman and Kaare Strøm, eds. The Madisonian Turn: Political Parties and Parliamentary Democracy in Nordic Europe. Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press. pdficon_small 

Examines how the chain of democratic delegation has evolved in Iceland since the foundation of the republic.

“Executive Veto Power and Credit Claiming: Comparing the Effects of the Line-item Veto and the Package Veto.” 2011. Public Choice 146(3-4): 375-394. pdficon_small 

The line-item veto has often be heralded as an effective tool in reducing pork barrel spending. This paper considers a model of veto bargaining that distinguishes between public goods and pork barrel spending and allows for the possibility that legislators receive credit for putting pork barrel projects on the agenda even if they are vetoed by the executive. A comparison of the package veto and the line-item veto demonstrates that the line-item does not necessarily lead to less pork barrel spending if credit-claiming incentives are present. Moreover, the executive can never obtain his preferred level of spending under the line-item veto. The effects of the line-item veto are also shown to have an ambiguous effect on the balance of power between the executive and the legislature but serves to enhance the position of agenda setters within the legislature.

“Comparing Strategic Voting under FPTP and PR” with Paul Abramson, John Aldrich, André Blais, Matthew Diamond, Abraham Diskin, Daniel Lee, and Renan Levine. 2010. Comparative Political Studies 43(1): 61-90. pdficon_small 

Based on recent work that suggests that voters in proportional representation (PR) systems have incentives to cast strategic votes, the authors hypothesize that levels of strategic voting are similar in both first-past-the-post (FPTP) and PR systems. Comparing vote intentions in majoritarian elections in the United States, Mexico, Britain, and Israel to PR elections in Israel and the Netherlands, the authors find that a substantial proportion of the voters desert their most preferred candidate or party and that patterns of strategic voting across FPTP and PR bear striking similarities. In every election, smaller parties tend to lose votes to major parties. Because there tend to be more small parties in PR systems, tactical voting is actually more common under PR than under FPTP. The findings suggest that whatever the electoral system, voters focus on the policy consequences of their behavior and which parties are likely to influence policy outcomes following the election.

“When to Run and When to Hide: Electoral Coordination and Exit.” 2008. Economics and Politics 20(1): 80-105. pdficon_small 

Elections represent a coordination problem for voters and candidates for office. Electoral coordination is also the causal mechanism behind any explanation of the relationship between electoral systems and the number of parties. I present a dynamic model of electoral coordination with candidate exit. The model extends two important results from the literature to a dynamic setting. The extension of Duvergerâ’s Law and the median-voter theorem also offers a simultaneous prediction of the number of parties and their ideological positions. Coordination failure is shown to be possible in a mixed-strategy equilibrium.

“Competition & Turnout: The Majority Run-off as a Natural Experiment.” 2008. Electoral Studies 27(4): 699-710. pdficon_small 

Run-off elections offer certain advantages for the study of political behavior over other electoral systems. This paper exploits the fact that run-off elections resemble a natural experiment to study the effects of competitiveness on voter turnout. The literature offers several explanations of the determinants of voter turnout. In run-off elections most of these factors can be assumed to be constant between the two ballots. Run-off elections, thus, provide an opportunity to evaluate the insights offered by rational choice theories of voter turnout. The results of the first ballot inform voters about the competitiveness of the race, which influences their propensity to vote on the second ballot. I derive several hypotheses about voter turnout in multi-candidate run-off elections from a simple theoretical framework and test them using data on the French legislative elections of 1997 and 2002. The results indicate competitiveness has a strong effect on voter turnout.

“To Dissent or not to Dissent? Informative Dissent and Parliamentary Government.” 2008. Economics of Governance 9(4): 363-392. pdficon_small 

Legislative dissent has detrimental effects for both party and legislator, i.e., legislators depend on their party label for re-election, which value in turn depends in part on the partyâ’s reputation of cohesiveness. Commonly dissent has been attributed to “extreme” preferences. I provide an informational rationale for dissent. Costly dissent allows the legislator to credibly signal information about his constituencyâ’s preferences to the Cabinet. As a result, the Cabinet can better calibrate its policies with the electorateâ’s preferences. Dissent is shown to depend on policy preferences as well as the legislatorsâ’ electoral strength, electoral volatility, and the cost of dissent. Finally, the results suggests that parties may sometimes benefit from tolerating some level of dissent.

“Does Terrorism Influence Domestic Politics? Coalition Formation and Terrorist Incidents.” 2008. Journal of Peace Research 45(2): 241-260. pdficon_small 

Terrorism has been shown to influence domestic politics, for example, by altering the priorities of voters and politicians. This article argues that terrorism has broader political consequences than simply putting national security on the political agenda. In particular, it argues that terrorist activity influences government formation. A number of scholars have noted that the presence of an external threat provides an incentive to overcome internal disagreements, suggesting that larger and more inclusive coalitions should form. Terrorist activity may also influence government survival, as voters hold politicians accountable for failing to provide security. Politicians, in anticipation of terrorist activity, may, therefore, seek to form a more stable coalition. The literature on government survival suggests that the size of the coalition positively affects its durability but that its ideological breadth is expected to have an adverse effect on survival, which is the opposite of the prediction of the theory based on external threat. To test whether terrorism influences coalition formation, the author analyzes coalition formation in 17 (primarily Western European) parliamentary democracies over a 50-year period using data on domestic and transnational terrorism from, respectively, the TWEED dataset and the Terrorism Knowledge Base. The results show that government coalitions are more likely to be surplus coalitions and, consistent with the theory emphasizing government survival, more likely to have a low degree of ideological polarization in periods following terrorist activity.

“Framboð eða eftirspurn? Árangur kvenna í prófkjörum flokkanna.” with Ásdís Jóna Sigurjónsdóttir. 2008. Icelandic Journal of Politics and Administration 4(2): 191-212. pdficon_small 

The article examines whether gender affects how candidates perform in the Icelandic party primaries. We find that overall there are no differences in the likelihood that men and women win the seat on the party list that they aim for. The differences in parliamentary representations have persisted because fewer women have run in the party primaries and fewer have aimed for the seats at the top of the party lists.

“Cabinet Reshuffles and Ministerial Drift” with Christopher Kam. 2008. British Journal of Political Science 38(4): 621-656. pdficon_small 

A model of policy implementation in a parliamentary democracy as delegation between the prime minister and her cabinet ministers is introduced. Cabinet reshuffles can be pursued as a strategy to reduce the agency loss which occurs due to the different preferences of the actors. This work thus explains why prime ministers resort to reshuffles: cabinet reshuffles reduce the moral hazard facing ministers. This answer both augments and distinguishes this work from traditional perspectives on reshuffles that have emphasized the deleterious effects of reshuffles on ministerial capacity, and also from recent work that casts reshuffles as solutions to the adverse-selection problems inherent in cabinet government. The conclusion offers a preliminary test of some of the hypotheses generated by this theory.

“Making Candidates Count: The Logic of Electoral Alliances in Two Round Legislative Elections” with André Blais. 2007. Journal of Politics 69(1): 193-205.pdficon_small 

Electoral systems have been shown to influence strategic voting and the development of party systems but the focus has rarely been on the strategies that parties adopt to take advantage of the electoral system under which they compete. Electoral pacts form one such strategy. We present a theory about the formation of electoral pacts in majority run-off elections and pay special attention to the consequences of the presence of extremist parties. Analyzing the 2002 French legislative elections we find that the Socialists and the Greens were more likely to form an alliance (and to agree on a common candidate) in closely contested constituencies and where there was a potential of coordination failure on the right. Finally, we show that the agreement primarily benefited the larger party.

Reprinted in David M. Farrell and Matthew Shugart, eds. 2012. Electoral Systems. London: Sage Publications.

“Cabinet Dynamics and Ministerial Careers in the French Fifth Republic“ with Christopher Kam. 2008. In Keith Dowding and Patrick Dumont, eds., The Selection of Ministers in Europe: Hiring and Firing. New York: Routledge. pdficon_small 

Examines cabinet composition and ministerial career paths in the French Fifth Republic.

“Stjórnsækni og stefnufesta” with Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson. 2007. Stjórnmál og stjórnsýsla 3(2): 191-212. pdficon_small 

No abstract available at the moment!

“Do Voters Care About Government Coalitions? Testing Downs’ Pessimistic Conclusion” with André Blais, John Aldrich, and Renan Levine. 2006. Party Politics 12(6): 691-705. pdficon_small 

In many countries, elections produce coalition governments. Downs points out that in such cases the rational voter needs to determine what coalitions are possible, i.e. to ascertain their probability and to anticipate the policy compromises that they entail. Downs adds that this may be too complex a task and concludes that most voters do not vote as though elections were government-selection mechanismsâ’ (Downs, 1957: 300). We test Downs’ “pessimistic” conclusion in the case of the 2003 Israeli election, an election that was bound to produce a coalition government and in which the issue of what the possible coalitions were was at the forefront of the campaign. We show that votersâ’ views about the coalitions that could be formed after the election had an independent effect on vote choice, over and above their views about the parties, the leaders and their ideological orientations. We estimate that for one voter out of ten, coalition preferences were a decisive consideration, that is, they induced the voter to support a party other than the most preferred one. For many others, they were a factor, though perhaps not the dominant one. Furthermore, the least informed were as prone to vote on the basis of coalition preferences as the most informed. Our evidence disconfirms Downsâ’ pessimistic view that voters will decide not to care about the formation of government. When they are provided with sufficient information about the possible options, voters think ahead about the coalitions that may be formed after the election.

“Stjórnarmyndanir og pólun.” 2006. Rannsóknir í Félagsvísindum VII: 685-695. pdficon_small 

A research note on the effects of parliamentary polarization on government formation in Western Europe.

“The Timing of Cabinet Reshuffles in Five Westminster Parliamentary Systems” with Christopher Kam. 2005. Legislative Studies Quarterly XXX, 3: 327-363. pdficon_small 

Despite their political prominence, cabinet reshuffles have not attracted a great deal of scholarly attention. We provide a theory of cabinet reshuffles that emphasizes both systematic and time-varying causes. In particular, we argue that prime ministers employ cabinet reshuffles to retain power in the face of both intraparty and electoral challenges to their leadership. We use repeated-events duration models to examine the timing of cabinet reshuffles in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in the period 1960-2001, and find support for several of our hypotheses.

“A Theory of Coalitions and Clientelism: Coalition Politics in Iceland 1945-2000.” 2005. European Journal of Political Research 44(3): 439-464. pdficon_small 

This article serves a dual purpose. First, it provides detailed information about coalition formation and termination in Iceland from 1945 to 2000 following closely the format of Wolfgang Müller and Kaare Strøm (eds), Coalition Politics in Western Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), which considers the other Western European democracies. The political landscape of Iceland is surveyed, as is the institutional framework that structures the formation of coalitions, coalition governance, and cabinet termination while providing complete data for each cabinet. Second, the effects clientelism has on coalition politics through the inflated importance of the executive office are considered. The patterns of coalition politics in the Nordic countries are compared to offer preliminary evidence supporting the theory.

“To adopt PR or not to adopt PR: Institutions or the Socialist Threat?” with André Blais and Agnieszka Dobrzynska. 2005. British Journal of Political Science 35(1):182-190. pdficon_small 

The idea that proportional representation methods were fairer systems of representation than plurality and/or majority rule began to grow in importance soon after the mid-19th century and most democracies of the late 19th and early 20th century seriously considered the option of adopting PR. The success of PR was, however, not universal. Many countries adopted but several democracies stuck with less representative electoral systems. Previous explanations have focused on factors such as country size, religious and ethnic diversity, and the rise of socialism. We, on the other hand, argue that current electoral institutions had a greater role in determining the appeal of PR. In particular, we argue that majority systems proved less resistant to the appeal of PR. Countries using plurality systems were less likely to adopt PR. Furthermore, we fail to find support for the hypotheses previously proposed in the literature.

Reprinted in David M. Farrell and Matthew Shugart, eds. 2012. Electoral Systems. London: Sage Publications.

“Enginn kann tveimur herrum að þjóna: Stofnanir, stjórnir og halli (Divided Accountability & Bureaucratic Spending).” with Arnar Másson. 2005. Rannsóknir í Félagsvísindum VI: 513-524. pdficon_small 

Government agencies in Iceland suffer from chronic overspending – over half of all agencies fail to stay within their budget. We demonstrate that the problem is, at least in part, institutional. Some government agencies are responsible to both a minister and a board, which confuses lines of accountability. We find that agencies that answer to multiple principals are more likely to go over their budget.

“Sérhagsmunastjórnmál og lengd stjórnarmyndunarviðræðna. (Determinants of Bargaining Duration)” 2005. Rannsóknir í Félagsvísindum VI: 591-600. pdficon_small 

A research note on the determinants of the duration of coalition bargaining.

“Hvenær verður minnihluti atkvæða að meirihluti fulltrúa? Tengslin milli atkvæðahlutfalls og stjórnarmeirihluta í skoðanakönnunum og bæjarstjórnarkosningum 1930-2002. (The Distribution of the Vote & Majority Status)” with Ólafur Þ. Harðarson. 2005. Icelandic Journal of Politics and Administration I: 5-22. pdficon_small 

Examines how the distribution of the vote influences the possibility of a party winning a majority with a minority of the vote.

“Coalition Considerations and the Vote” with John Aldrich, André Blais, and Renan Levine. 2004. In A. Asher and A. Shamir, eds., The Elections in Israel 2003, 180-211. (New Brunswick: Transaction Press and Jerusalem: Israeli Democracy Institute). pdficon_small 

The study of strategic voting has been one of the main themes in the study of voter behavior. The standard view in the literature is that in plurality rule elections voters will behave strategically while in proportional representation the incentive to do so is absent because of the close correspondence between the number of votes and seats the system produces. The voters may, however, face strategic incentives other than those associated with “the wasted vote”. If voters have preferences over policy outcomes, rather than simply over parties, they will be concerned with which coalition forms after the election. Subsequently, strategic behavior should be observed in proportional representation systems. Focusing on one of the most proportional electoral systems in the world we demonstrate that coalition considerations lead to strategic behavior on behalf of the voters.

“Samkeppni og kosningaþátttaka (Competition and Turnout).” 2004. Rannsóknir í Félagsvísindum V: 797-808. pdficon_small 

No abstract available at the moment!

“Use of Resident-Origin Data to Define Nursing Home Market Boundaries” with Jack Zwanziger and Dana B. Mukamel. 2002. Inquiry, 39(1): 56-66. pdficon_small 

Previous studies of nursing home markets have assumed that a nursing home’s market is coincident with the boundaries of the county in which it is located. We test this assumption by using the zip code of residence for Medicare beneficiaries admitted into a nursing home in New York state in the periods 1992-93 and 1996-97. We find that nursing homes located in urban areas have markets that are a fraction of the size of the county in which they are located. We calculate the Herfindahl-Hirschmann Index (HHI) to measure the competitiveness of each nursing home’s market. This shows that nursing home markets tend to be more concentrated than those that result from assuming countywide markets. These results suggest that studies of nursing home markets should not use counties as markets.

“Do Quality Report Cards Play a Role in HMOs Contracting Practices?  Evidence from New York State” with Dana B. Mukamel, Alvin I. Mushlin, David Weimer, Jack Zwanziger, and Todd Parker. 2000. Health Services Research, 35(1 Pt 2): 319-332. pdficon_small 

Other Publications

Nomination: Duverger’s ‘A new political system model’. 2013. European Journal of Political Research. 40th Anniversary Virtual Issue.

Review of Accounting for Ministers: Scandal and Survival in British Government 1945-2007 by Samuel Berlinski, Torun Dewan, and Keith Dowding. 2014. West European Politics 371(1): 228-230.

Review of Multiparty Democracy: Elections and Legislative Politics by Norman Schofield and Itai Sened. 2008. Perspectives on Politics 6(1): 195-196.

“Oligarchy.” 2008. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr. vol. 6. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. p. 36-37.