Current research

Our research covers various aspects of Comparative Politics, Interdependence and Globalization. Read a brief outline of current research projects of CPIG team members below:

The Future of Democracy

After the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy and international cooperation seemed to be the only game in town. 30 years on, we have come to realize that democracy is being challenged both by actors within established democracies as well as by authoritarian regimes like China or Russia. At the same time, multilateral international cooperation and supranational integration have come increasingly under stress and are being questioned by nationalists around the world. This happens against the backdrop of a highly globalized and integrated world where globalization is usefully analyzed as a structural condition of the international system. Our joint research agenda “The Future of Democracy in a Globalized World” analyzes challenges to democracy under this condition in order to think about the future of democratic participation, human rights and the rule of law. 

 

Specifically, we propose to address the following topics:

  • Algorithmic governance
  • Depoliticization
  • Demographic change
  • Political polarization
  • Inequality and redestribution
  • Work and labor relations
  • Climate change
  • Cyber warfare and disinformation
  • Populism and extremism

 

These maybe THE core topics of our time and beyond. The locus of democratically legitimized decision making becomes increasingly incongruent with the challenges that transcend boundaries (e.g. climate change, international migration, hybrid modes of warfare), thereby de-legitimizing established modes of democratic decision making in a globalized context. Neither established democracies nor new institutions of multi-level governance like the EU have developed convincing models to address this problem. They have, therefore, become vulnerable to attacks on their foundation – the consent of those governed. 

The Dialectic of Globalization

In the context of this research project, Christian Martin is interested in the backlashes against free trade, migration, and open societies more generally. The project has a number of components, among them a number of articles that deal with, inter alia, a) the demise of social democracy as a viable political competitor in most European countries (co-authored with Mona Krewel), b) the Rise of the AfD in the 2017 German federal elections as a result of their mobilization efforts, and c) the degree to which globalization is influenced by trade union strength (co-authored with Anne Metten).

In a book that is currently under preparation, Christian Martin more generally identifies four key developments that have given rise to the resurgence of nationalism and the rejection of globalization. These are a) a narrowing down of the policy space on an economic dimension and a resulting increased importance of the societal and cultural dimension of politics, b) a “there-is-no-alternative” rhetoric that began with the market oriented reforms of the early 1980s and culminated during the 2008ff. world financial economic and sovereign debt crisis, c) an increase in inequality in practically all advanced western democracies, d) the pervasiveness of cultural change and the ensuing prominence of identity topics in political competition. For further information, contact Christian Martin.

Chasing the ‘Populist Zeitgeist’

The research project is concerned with the various facets of current and historic electoral breakthroughs and rule of populist parties and politicians. Michael Bayerlein’s research specifically focuses on the determinants and consequences of populism by identifying common causes and working out short- as well as long-term ramifications for the political system. The project has multiple components that are currently addressed in five working papers:

  1. A historical big data approach to identify the economic and political determinants of populist electoral breakthroughs between 1900 and 2020 that also addresses the persistence of populist actors after these breakthroughs (with Christoph Trebesch and Manuel Funke).
  2. Focusing on electoral competition, an analysis of mainstream party responsiveness towards the electoral success of right-wing populist parties in Europe on the newly politicized GAL-TAN policy dimension.
  3. Constructing an innovative index on ontological insecurity, as a determinant of anti-globalization attitudes and right-wing populist voting in Western European countries on the individual level (with Anne Metten).
  4. An analysis of regional differences in right-wing populist voting in Germany and the USA by introducing the concept of spatial inequality. Using household income data from Germany and the USA, relative regional inequality is modeled as a determinant of populist voting.
  5.  Populist response to COVID-19 pandemic. Using new data on government responses to the pandemic, we analyze how the policies implemented by populist governments differ from non-populist governments, and what the effect of these policy on excess mortality is (with Vanessa A. Boese, Scott Gates, Gyozo Gyoengyoesi, Katrin Kamin and Syed Mansoob Murshed).

 

For further information, contact Michael Bayerlein.

Trade Union Strength in a Globalized World

While trade union density is the most influential and most commonly used indicator to map trade union strength, comparing between countries and time, Anne Metten argues that trade union density is lacking both specificity and comparability. The comparability of union density is problematic because the strength of trade unions is a more multi-faceted phenomenon than can be captured by the mere proportion of union members. Additionally, many studies on industrial relations neglect developing countries. Therefore, based on a combination of different theoretical approaches that identify determinants of trade union strength involving developing countries, she offers a novel, composite index that is better at capturing trade union strength than previous indices. First evaluations of this Collective Labor Force (CLF) Index, which covers the years 2000 to 2016 in 72 countries, show that it is quite capable of doing so.

Subsequent studies working with the CLF will shed a new light on previous research findings on industrial relations and trade unions. Particularly in the context of globalization, research on the influence of trade unions on globalization and vice versa has produced ambiguous results in recent decades. A research project together with Christian Martin will shed light on this relationship. For further information, contact Anne Metten.