My main areas of research interest include the comparative, quantitative study of public opinion and citizens’ political behaviour as well as European Union politics, with a particular focus on the role of political parties in the European integration process. In terms of research methods, I am particularly interested in quantitative text analysis which is applied in the context of two current research projects, which I am involved in: the Euromanifestos Study as well as my DFG Project on the political structuring of EP elections.
In the past, my main research interest focused on the domain of public opinion research. In this context, I explored the development of political trust in new European democracies as part of my doctoral thesis. In addition to that, I investigated the link between political trust and protest behaviour as well as individual resources. Together with my colleague Markus Tausendpfund, we continuously study citizens’ attitudes towards national and European Union politics (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019).
While at first I was primarily interested in public opinion research, my interest gradually widened in recent years. Thus, my second main area of research interest focuses on the study of citizens’ political behaviour, especially concerning European elections. Within this context, I explored the motivation of individual voting behaviour in second-order-elections as well as in times of crisis.
Within my third main area of research interest, I focus on European Union party politics. In this context, I was able to show that against previous findings, parties do talk about European issues as long as these topics are defined not only as solely EU polity issues, but also as EU policy issues. At the same time, EU polity issues still function as driving forces of the EU politicizing process, even though it is certainly possible to see EU policy issues as a sign of differentiated politicization. Moreover, most recent findings show that in the aftermath of multiple EU crises, political parties - and in particular of Eurosceptic parties of the left and right - all over Europe are characterized by a general anti-European shift which has been driven not so much by the objective severity of political problems during times of crisis, nor by the evaluations of these problems by the citizenry, but rather by more general public evaluations of the EU. My most recent work, investigates the role of Eurosceptic parties vis-à-vis this general anti-European shift.
Moreover, in the two most recent empirical studies, I examined the role of political parties in the course of the introduction of the Spitzenkandidaten system, which was introduced for the first time in the 2014 elections to the European Parliament. In doing this, the empirical evidence illustrates that political parties in general have very limited interest to put the Spitzenkandidaten system as such, as well as the candidates themselves, at the heart of the election campaign since they are primarily led by their own strategic considerations. The latter insights are important bricks for my habilitation thesis which aims to explore European Union multi-level party politics. In short (but see more in detail here), I follow up on the question whether political parties within a multi-level party system use the same strategies as known from comparative politics research to achieve their goals or if they adapt their behaviour to the special characteristics and constraints of the different levels at play. My most recent study equally adds to this idea: By comparing election manifestos of political parties in the EU multilevel electoral system, we are able to show that political parties put different emphases on EU issues, but do not differ significantly regarding their position taking.
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