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Current Research Projects and Staff

Team: Prof. Dr. Joachim Blatter // Dr. Diego Garzia

The European Union (EU) as the flagship of supra-nationalism is in a severe crisis. Its legitimacy is increasingly questioned by populist and nationalist parties which claim that the political elites and procedures have become detached from the people and that immigrants endanger the welfare and the culture of the autochthonous population. In this context, the project investigates the potential of transnational citizenship and voting opportunities as current and future pathways contributing to reduce the distance between the people and politicians and to overcome the dichotomy between migrants and sedentary populations.
Based on normative theorizing, current empirical tendencies, and existing ideas, we first develop two proposals for transnationalizing voting spaces on the European and on the national level. The first proposal lays out how voters from EU member states could vote for parties from other member states in the election to the European Parliament. The second proposal envisions that voters from other EU member states could elect (a limited number of) representatives in the national parliament of each EU member state. These proposals build on and expand current trends to allow voting beyond the confines of territory (requirement: residency) and nationality (requirement: citizenship).
Second, with the help of a pan-European Electronic Voting Advice Application (VAA), we will gather information not only about the current extent of transnational voting (by external and dual citizens) and transnational campaigning of parties. We will also find out whether and where people and parties are willing to support and use those further opportunities for transnational voting that we lay out in our two proposals. VAAs play a double role in our project: Conceptually, they are necessary preconditions for making our proposals viable. Empirically, a VAA that we will set up together with the European University Institute in Florence will create the data for our and further scientific studies.
Finally, our project brings together two strands of research: The first strand of research is concerned with citizenship rights and practices beyond the realm of the Westphalian nation state, while the second deals with the design of electoral systems for multi-national polities. We will test whether voters and parties are mainly driven by polity-centered considerations (interest in and identification with particular or multiple nation states or with the EU) or by policy-centered considerations (policy positions and preferences).
Altogether, the project will stimulate the discussion about a third transnational pathway for securing the effectiveness and legitimacy of the European Union beyond supranationalism and nationalism. It will tremendously expand our empirical knowledge out the current level of transnational orientations and practices of people and parties in Europe, and at the same time we will find out whether and where people and parties support expanded options for transnational voting. Furthermore, the project will allow us to keep at the forefront of research dealing with VAAs. Finally, the gained insights might be stimulating for other multi-lingual or multi-national democratic systems.

Team: Dr. Diego Garzia // Andrea De Angelis, MA // Frederico Ferreira da Silva, MA

Over the last decades, the "personalization of politics" has turned into one of the defining elements of the democratic process. However, the common wisdom that sees popular political leaders as a fundamental electoral asset for their own parties finds only limited support in the scant voting literature. So far, comparative electoral research has proven reluctant in systematically addressing the impact of leaders on voting across time and space. Equally crucial aspects such as the role played by television exposure as a driver of personalization in voting behaviour, and the relationship between the rise of Internet-based political communication and the personalization trend have so far been under-researched.

The major aim of this project is to empirically assess the extent to which political leaders have come to affect voter's choice, as well as the role played by the media in driving this development across time. This project substantially extends the existing state-of-the-art on personalization of politics and electoral behaviour through its innovative methodological approach and its wider geographical/longitudinal scope. It involves the longitudinal harmonization and analysis of over a hundred existing cross-sectional datasets from European countries (1960-2015). Analysis of available panel data will complement the findings of the longitudinal analysis by focusing more in depth on causal dynamics. With regard to the research environment in which to place the study, the current state of the literature suggests that European democracies represent the locus where more research is in need. European democracies highlight many of the crucial variations in the structure of democratic politics and thus provide the ideal framework for such a thoroughly comparative analysis. The European-wide dimensions of the study will allow for an extensive testing of the institutional, contextual and technological factors mediating leader effects across time and space.

Team: Dr. Nenad Stojanovic // Lea Portmann, MA

Following normative democratic theory, citizens should have an equal and effective opportunity to vote in an election, all votes being counted as equal. And citizens should be free to choose a party or candidate. But citizens are not only voters. They can also participate in elections as candidates. This means that citizens must also be free to run as candidates and should have an "equal chance" to run for office. What if voters belonging to a given identity group vote only for candidates from that group and not for candidates of a minority group and this decision is based on morally objectionable forms of prejudice? This "electoral discrimination" may result in a massive statistical underrepresentation of citizens from the minority group in democratic institutions and reduce the freedom to run for office to an empty shell. The aim of this project is twofold: It will explore the theoretical aspects of electoral discrimination and will present an empirical analysis of electoral discrimination in Switzerland based on data for the 2015 elections to the Swiss National Council by focusing upon “minority candidates”. The originality of the project lies in the fact that the concept of discrimination in the electoral process has not been sufficiently addressed so far in the contemporary political theory literature, and that contrary to other liberal-democratic countries there are hardly any empirical studies that have explored either minority representation as such, or the extent of electoral discrimination in Switzerland.

Please click here for more information about this project in German.

Team: Prof. Dr. Joachim Blatter // INTERFACE Politikstudien Forschung Beratung (and Partners)

The Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society and Transition (CREST) is one of the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCER). It contributes to the energy transition in Switzerland by providing evidence-based recommendations on policies. The Department of Political Science of Lucerne is involved in the SCCER CREST’s task 3.1. We are occupied with research on the influence of different policy instruments and implementation structures on the success of energy policies in federal systems like Switzerland.

Please click here for more information about our contribution to SCCER CREST in German.

Team: Prof. Dr. Joachim Blatter // Dr. Andrea Schlenker // Eva Granwehr, BA

In recent decades we have seen a dramatic rise of dual citizenship, with Switzerland being a vanguard in this respect as it accepted dual citizenship in 1992. Today more than ten percent of the Swiss population has more than one passport. However, the consequences of this trend are disputed and not well understood. In popular discourses dual citizenship is mostly seen as a threat to national cohesion and democracy. In contrast, many intellectuals and scholars conceive of dual citizens as vanguard of citizenship practices above and across nation states, and as an important source for democratizing a globalizing world order. However, these debates are not only taking place in different discursive fields, the two aspects are also not well connected in empirical research. This project tries to fill this void by tracing the political involvement of dual citizens in Switzerland as well as their transnational and their cosmopolitan citizenship practices. A first goal of the project is to lay out a theory-based and coherent typology of spaces of citizenship practices and political involvement beyond the nation state. The second and main goal of the project is to find out empirically whether transnational ties and membership in multiple national communities hinder political involvement in the country of residence, and whether they facilitate the development of supranational citizenship practices. The empirical study will follow a mixed methods approach combining quantitative survey data and narrative and semi-structured interviews with three sets of carefully selected (dual) citizens. 

Please click here to see preliminary results of this project.

Team: Prof. Dr. Andreas Balthasar // Walter Rohrbach, MA // Olivier Dolder, MA

Existing research indicates heterogeneity of the organisational evaluation culture across policy sectors. However, to date, no study has systematically assessed the reasons why the evaluation culture has developed differently across policy sectors and administrative units in Switzerland on a federal and cantonal level. This subproject of SynEval, a inter-university project occupied with policy evaluation in the Swiss political system, aims at closing this gap with two dissertations. A first dissertation focuses on the influence of policy sectors on the evaluation culture, a second dissertation on the relationship of evaluation culture and New Public Management reforms. The subproject is linked to all the other SynEval-subprojects by measuring the same dependent or independent variable – the evaluation culture on both the cantonal and the federal level.

Please click here for more information about this project in German.

Team: Prof. Dr. Sandra Lavenex // Dr. Omar Serrano // Ivo Krizic, MA

Team: Prof. Dr. Sandra Lavenex // Dr. Omar Serrano // Lei Wang, MA

Team: Prof. Dr. Sandra Lavenex // Dr. des. Michael Buess 

Team: Prof. Dr. Sandra Lavenex // Dr. Flavia Jurje

Team: Prof. Dr. André Bächtiger // Dominik Wyss, MA // Simon Beste, MA // Maja Baumann, BA

Working Paper Series "Glocal Governance and Democracy"

Working Paper #1 - Dual Citizenship and Democracy

Joachim Blatter 

Working Paper #2 - Acceptance of Dual Citizenship

Joachim Blatter, Stefanie Erdmann and Katja Schwanke  

Working Paper #3 - Mobilising Diasporas

Rahel Kunz

Working Paper #4 - Patents, Power and Rhetoric

Heiko Baumgärtner

Working Paper #5 - Unity in Diversity 

Andrea Schlenker-Fischer 

Working Paper #6 - Between Nationalism and Globalism 

Joachim Blatter and Andrea Schlenker

Working Paper #7 - Forms of Political Governance

Joachim Blatter

Working Paper #8 - The Immigrant Inclusion Index (IMIX)

Joachim Blatter, Samuel D. Schmid, Andrea Blättler

Working Paper #9 - A Critique of Swiss Democracy (German)

Joachim Blatter  

Science and Politics – What Policy Actors Believe in

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Transnational Voting

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Lucerne Cluster for Configurational Methods (LUCCS)

The Department of Political Science at the University of Lucerne unites a group of scholars who make major contributions to social science methodology at the crossroads between quantitative and qualitative research. What these scholars share is a commitment to “configurational thinking” and the application of such thinking to the formation of concepts and to empirical research. With this focus and concentration of competencies, LUCCS is internationally unique.

Find out more information here.

The Immigrant Inclusion Index (IMIX)

This project comparatively evaluates a selection of EU member states with respect to their electoral inclusion of immigrant residents. It uses a novel index that bridges the fields of citizenship studies, democracy measurement, and normative analysis. Find out more and download our dataset.

Awards and Recognitions

Recent Dissertations

  • "Der Einfluss kantonaler Justizsysteme auf das Vertrauen der Bevölkerung in die Gerichte"

Ph.D. Student: Christoph Schwenkel

Disputation: 13th of July 2016

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Andreas Balthasar & Prof. Dr. Michele Luminati

  • "The impact of cooperation between Europarties and non-EU parties on party development in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine"

Ph.D. Student: Maria Shagina

Disputation: 7th of November 2016

Supervisors: Dr. Sandra Lavenex/Dr. Kataryna Wolczuk