Analysing political party development and voter attitudes towards political regimes
We conduct in-depth studies of political party development, behaviour and strategies alongside large-scale analyses of voter behaviour and attitudes towards political regimes and societies. This program brings together comparative political scientists at Griffith University from Australia, Ireland, Italy and Spain who specialise in parties and elections.
Covering a wide range of countries, our work has been published in highly-ranked journals and we collaborate with colleagues from major universities across the globe. Our research currently includes projects funded by the Australian Research Council and the Swedish Research Council.
To further the study of elections and parties in Australia and beyond, we organise annual, invitation-only workshops on topics like the accountability and democracy in South East Asia and the relationship between populist and mainstream parties.
Dr Ferran Martinez i Coma
Electoral integrity, comparative politics, political parties and electoral behaviour.
Professor Duncan McDonnell
Political parties, populism, Euroscepticism and right wing politics.
Dr Lee Morgenbesser
South East Asian politics, authoritarian regimes and democratisation.
Professor Juliet Pietsch
Racial and ethnic politics, comparative politics, electoral behaviour
Dr Lisa Zanotti
Populism, partisan polarisation, political divides, anti-democratic attitudes
SUBMISSION TO SENATE INQUIRY
Professor Duncan McDonnell and his colleague from University of Queensland, Glenn Kefford, recently made a submission to the Senate Inquiry on nationhood, national identity and democracy.
In it, they discussed the reasons why right-wing populism had been less successful in Australia than in most other Western democracies, arguing in particular that the lack of capable Australian populist leaders was a key difference. Their submission was extensively discussed in a Guardian Australia article on 18 November. (Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP)
THE RISE OF SOPHISTICATED AUTHORITARIANISM IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
New research on authoritarianism in Southeast Asia indicates sophistication is on the rise. With a majority of countries in South-East Asia currently under autocratic leadership and little history of liberal democracy in the region, Dr Lee Morgenbesser has found that the region’s penchant for authoritarianism is stable and the level of sophistication is increasing – which is a concern for champions of democracy.
“What’s happening is you have less civil rights and civil liberties than previously, but the balance between the number of autocratic and democratic countries is fairly stable - the question I have in the conclusion is if you don’t move towards sophistication do you lose power? And the data indicates that this could really happen,” said Dr Morgenbesser.
Image: Marina Bay Singapore, by MandarinOriental
THE PERSONALITY OF POPULISTS: PROVOCATEURS, CHARISMATIC LEADERS, OR DRUNKEN DINNER GUESTS?
Lately, the ‘populist phenomenon’ has received a lot of attention. Yet less is known about the populists themselves. On the one hand, populists are often described as bad-mannered provocateurs disrupting the political game, but, on the other hand, they are also seen as charismatic leaders able to persuade and motivate.
In a recent piece in West European Politics, Alessandro Nai and Ferran Martinez i Coma ask whether a populist ‘style’ or ‘personality’ can be identified and whether and to what extent populists score differently from ‘mainstream’ politicians on established personality inventories. Relying on a new dataset based on expert ratings for 152 candidates (including 33 populists) having competed in 73 elections worldwide, Nai and Martinez i Coma find that populists score lower on agreeableness, emotional stability and conscientiousness. At the same time, populists score higher on extraversion, narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. These results have important implications for the study of the success of populists in contemporary democracies and beyond.
INTERNATIONAL POPULISM: THE RADICAL RIGHT IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
In October-November 2019, Professor Duncan McDonnell presented his new book with Annika Werner, International Populism: The Radical Right in the European Parliament, in 7 universities in Australia, Ireland, France and Singapore. The book, published by Hurst in the UK and Oxford University Press in the US, discusses how radical right populist parties make alliances with one another at European level.
(In the photo below, McDonnell presents his work at the European School of Political and Social Sciences in Lille)
VICE CHANCELLOR'S RESEARCH EXCELLENCE AWARD
Congratulations to Dr Lee Morgenbesser, who was recently awarded the 2019 Vice Chancellor's Research Excellence Award (Early Career Researcher). Lee's five years as an early career researcher has been incredibly fulfilling and this award is fantastic recognition of his contribution to research in the political science field.
Lee has recently completed work on his forthcoming book The Rise of Sophisticated Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia (New York: Cambridge University Press).
THE RISE OF ZOMBIE ELECTION MONITORS
In August 2019, Lee Morgenbesser presented his new research project on the rise of zombie election monitors to staff at the National Endowment for Democracy and the Centre of Excellence for Democracy, Human Rights and Governance within the United States Agency for International Development. The multi-year research project seeks to explain the emergence and impact of zombie monitors – i.e., international observers hired by authoritarian regimes to lend a veneer of credibility to their flawed elections. While in Washington D.C., Lee Morgenbesser also presented a research paper at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting.
INDIA’S RIGHT-WING POPULISTS IN POWER
In a new article, published recently in Democratization, Duncan McDonnell and his CGPP colleague Luis Cabrera, discuss how India’s ruling party, the BJP, espouses right-wing populist conceptions of ‘the people’, ‘elites’ and ‘others’. Arguing that the BJP has been neglected within the literature on populism, they show how it can provide a useful comparison with other cases. McDonnell has also written a comment piece based on this study for The Sydney Morning Herald.
HOW CAN POLITICAL ACTORS SHAPE VOTER TURNOUT
Dr Ferran Martinez i Coma was awarded $248,000 by ARC Discovery Projects, for the project “How can political actors shape voter turnout?” This project aims to investigate what explains variations on individual’s turnout rates by analysing the strategies employed by candidates and parties to mobilise their supporters and demobilise their detractors. The project will compare the mobilisation and demobilisation strategies of the parties and candidates. Expected outcomes include an improved understanding of the demobilised, the re-affirmed abstainers and the activated voters, which are under-studied. The findings will enhance understanding of motivations of those citizens, a topic of growing scholarly interest, and also inform Australian policy makers seeking to enhance the design of their governance interventions.
DEEPENING AUTHORITARIAN RULE IN CAMBODIA
In an article for highly-acclaimed Journal of Democracy, Lee Morgenbesser explains recent political events in Cambodia. In the last few years, we have witnessed yet another iteration in the form of a brutal crackdown and sham election perpetrated by the dictator Hun Sen, who has been in power since January 1985. The crackdown itself targeted the last remaining vestiges of public antagonism to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, namely civil society groups, independent media organisations, and political opponents. The sham election capitalised of this act of suppression by providing a mechanism to maintain power, albeit while feigning conformity to the virtues of party competition, citizen participation and impartial validation. Despite a history of both intense repression and flawed elections under Hun Sen’s government, recent events were unprecedented by the standard of Cambodian politics. This was because Hun Sen’s government was implementing a strategy unfamiliar to people living inside Cambodia and unusual for scholars outside it: a transition from competitive to hegemonic authoritarian rule.
DIFFERENTLY EUROSCEPTIC: RADICAL RIGHT POPULIST PARTIES AND THEIR SUPPORTERS
Research group members, Duncan McDonnell and Annika Werner have recently published their second article since 2017 in Journal of European Public Policy (ranked 3rd in the world by the Google Scholar Political Science list). In their new study, McDonnell and Werner investigate the role played by Euroscepticism in driving support for radical right populist parties and examine whether these parties’ supporters have followed their shifts of position and salience on this issue.
Using data from the ‘Euandi’ project, they find that while radical right populist parties and their supporters closely aligned on immigration (which remains the main driver of support), they did not do so as much on European integration. McDonnell and Werner conclude that the increased salience of this issue does not necessarily lead to stronger linkages between parties and voters and that radical right populist parties therefore continue to enjoy flexibility on European integration and can shift positions if necessary (as we have recently seen in the cases of such parties in France and Italy).
TRUMP, POPULISM AND THE AGE OF EXTREMES
Ferran Martinez i Coma has co-authored (with Alessandro Nai and Jurgen Maier) an article titled "Donald Trump, Populism, and the Age of Extremes: Comparing the Personality Traits and Campaigning Styles of Trump and Other Leaders Worldwide" in the Presidential Studies Quarterly. Jan 2019. They analysed a novel database based on expert ratings of Trump, 21 other populist leaders and 82 mainstream leaders.
The article examines the evidence, contrasts Trump's profile to others and discusses the implications of such an extreme profile and the potential outcomes of such an extreme personality type on his presidency.
The article has recently been cited in the British Psychological Society Research Digest, 31 January 2019 where Christian Jarrett authored an article on Study Compares Trump’s Personality With Other Populist Leaders And Finds He Is An “Outlier Among The Outliers.
Respectable Radicals and the Euro-Nationalist International
Professor Duncan McDonnell
Respectable Radicals and the Euro-Nationalist International
In October 2017, Duncan McDonnell presented work at University of California, Berkeley, from his ongoing project with Annika Werner on right-wing populist parties in the European Parliament (EP). Starts at 03:39
2019 - EXTERNAL SEMINARS AND TALKS
|23 April||MacMillan Center, Yale University||Duncan McDonnell|
|25 April||New School, New York||Duncan McDonnell|
|28 August||National Democratic Institute (tentative)||Lee Morgenbesser|
|29 August||American Political Science Association Annual Meeting||Lee Morgenbesser|
|7 October||Deakin University||Duncan McDonnell|
|14 October||Trinity College, Dublin||Duncan McDonnell|
|15 October||Queens University Belfast||Duncan McDonnell|
|16 October||University of Limerick||Duncan McDonnell|
|23 October||University College, Dublin||Duncan McDonnell|
|24 October||University of Lille||Duncan McDonnell|
|4 November||University of Copenhagen||Duncan McDonnell|
|12 November||National University of Singapore||Duncan McDonnell|
2018 - EXTERNAL SEMINARS AND TALKS
|5 February||Institutional Affairs Committee, Parliament of Catalonia||Ferran Martinez i Coma|
Department of Social and Political Change, Australian National University
|21 February||Indonesia Study Group, Australian National University||Diego Fossati|
|12 March||University of Copenhagen||Duncan McDonnell|
|26 March||University of Turin||Duncan McDonnell|
|12 June||Institutional Affairs Committee, Parliament of Catalonia||Ferran Martinez i Coma|
|13 September||Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C | United States Department of State, Washington D.C.||Lee Morgenbesser|
|19 September||German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg||Lee Morgenbesser|
|20 September||Australian National University||Duncan McDonnell|
|26 September||Varieties of Democracy Project, University of Gothenburg||Lee Morgenbesser|
|5 October||Department of Political Science, University of Oslo||Lee Morgenbesser|
|15 October||Queen Mary University, London||Duncan McDonnell|
|18 October||University of Oslo||Duncan McDonnell|
|22 October||OECD, Paris||Duncan McDonnell|
|5 November||University of Trieste, Italy||Duncan McDonnell|