My main areas of research interest include the comparative, quantitative study of political attitudes (1) and political behaviour (2) as well as European Union politics (3). In terms of research methods, I am particularly interested in quantitative text analysis and the analysis of public opinion data which is applied in the context of my major research projects: The DFG-funded project on the political structuring of European elections as well as a new project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) entitled "Friends and foes of the European Union: The consequences of increasing divisions in and for Europe (ProConEU).
(1) In the earlier phases of my academic career, my research focused on political attitudes. 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. Recently, I followed up with trust research for the German case thirty years after reunification. Finally, together with my colleague Markus Tausendpfund, we continuously study citizens’ attitudes towards national and European Union politics (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019).
(2) While at first I was primarily interested in political attitudes, 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 politics. Within this context, I explored the motivation of individual voting behaviour in second-order-elections (2009, 2020) as well as in times of crisis (2018, 2020). More recent articles investigate the drivers of electoral participation in the 2019 elections to the European Parliament: Europeanness and European preferences as well as transnational policy issues.
(3) Within my third main area of research, I focus on European Union politics - recently I published a Special Issue (together with Martin Gross and Berthold Rittberger) on this increasing research domain.
Party politics: Within this domain, my research takes a particular focus on the role of political parties in the European integration process. 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 and the more general question on the way political conflict over Europe has changed over time.
EU multi-level politics: By comparing election manifestos of different levels of 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. In addition to that, the investigation of the Spitzenkandidaten system offered interesting insights on the typical constraints created by the multi-level system. 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 together with the empirical investigation of the politicization of Europe at the EU level of governance are important bricks for my habilitation thesis which explores European Union multi-level party politics.
Finally, most recently I started to investigate party communication and in particular the role of new social media within the field of party communication. Moreover, inspired by my new seminar at LMU, future research will focus on gender & politics, too.
New project: ProConEU
New database: Find all Euromanifestos (1979-2014) at the GESIS data archive.
Publications in 2022