Priority 1How Social are Political Decisions?One of the key aspects of my research lays in understanding how social relations impact (political) decision-making. This question is particularly relevant for elected representatives, as they have a clear mandate to represent their constituency. Yet, in order to advance their agenda these representatives need to bond together. How do these social ties they form affect their decisions? Finding the answer to this question is key in developing new interventions (i.e., designing policy forums where opposing actors meet and exchange their views and plans) to help alleviate polarization dynamics and the rightward shift in western democracies.
Priority 2How do Spill-Overs Affect Political Decisions?The political science community still builds strongly on case study evidence. While this research methodology often yields specific answers to the questions posed, they do leave one aspect out: the bigger picture. Political decision-making (especially in legislative politics) is multi-faceted and involves both a temporal dependency (i.e., decisions build upon one another) and an issue dependency (i.e., political issues are linked and sometimes affect each other). How to these temporal and issue dependencies affect political decision-making? This question demands a systemic perspective in its answering process. This question can only be answered empirically if the data is large enough, spanning decades and multiple policy sectors---the DemocraSci Knowledge Graph is a prime example. Furthermore, it demands causal tracing of spill-over effects, which in turn, demand for causal network analysis, a field that is only now beginning to develop and which I plan to advance significantly.
Priority 3How can we Make Democracies more Transparent?A career goal of mine is to strengthen transparency in political decisions. Research has shown that transparency is a key factor in reversing electoral decline and citizen involvement in politics. Strong democracies rely on informed citizens. If the information is too cumbersome to come by, most people will not find time to engage in political decision making processes, even if they directly affect them or their surroundings. This is why we have started working on the DemocraSci Knowledge Graph. The database follows an intuitive design and allows us to explore interdependencies in politics. I envision a DemocraSci platform that helps citizens gain a quick overview over (national) politics and understand what their representatives are working on.
February 6, 2023
This week I attended the Swiss Political Science Association Annual Conference at the University of Basel. I love this conference. It's small, friendly and full of engaging people. This year, I presented a first look at our paper on issue engagement in the Swiss parliament. In this paper we're trying to show which issues the Swiss parliament has dealt with over the past 130 years.
March 14, 2022
Ever wonder how national policies move through parliament? The Swiss parliament knows several different instruments to enact political change. I generally refer to these instruments as bills (dt. Geschäfte). The term "bill" is not quite correct, other researchers call them legislative drafts, legislative proposals, businesses etc.. I prefer to call them bills because it keeps things simple. In this blogpost I present 9 types of bills and how they move through the parliament.
February 21, 2022
The link between political systems and the structure of policy networks has received little attention in the policy studies literature. But the way the political system is set up can have deep impacts on how actors embedded in it engage with each other. In this article we examine power structures and interaction patterns between policy actors.