Isabela Mares | Parliaments in Times of Democratic Erosion

Thursday, May 23, 2024
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Encina Hall 2nd floor EAST,  Reuben Hills Conference Room

  • Isabela Mares, Yale University

How do parliamentary norms break down?

How does the presence of extremist parties in parliaments modify parliamentary norms? In this talk, I draw on two recent papers to examine the responses of mainstream politicians to the disruptive strategies of extremist legislators. A first study will examine the dynamics of parliamentary erosion during the Weimar parliament. Using a novel dataset of all calls-to-order, I document the existence of a cycle of provocation-counter provocation that led to the erosion of parliamentary norms in the last years of the Weimar Republic. 

A second paper (co-authored with Qixuan Yang) studies informal interactions in the contemporary German Bundestag during the period between 2017 and 2021. Using a novel dataset of over 25,000 parliamentary speeches, we document a significant erosion of parliamentary norms, as measured by an increase in the number of verbal and nonverbal interruptions. Both legislators from mainstream and extremist parties contribute to this erosion of parliamentary norms. We argue that legislators from mainstream parties use informal attacks on legislators from non-proximate extremist parties to appeal to voters on their extremes and signal a more extreme policy position. We show that the incentives of legislators from mainstream parties to engage in these informal attacks on extremist legislators can be explained by partisan and district-level conditions.

Isabela Mares is the Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science at Yale University. She specializes in the comparative politics of Europe. Professor Mares has written extensively on labor market and social policy reforms, the political economy of taxation, electoral clientelism, reforms limiting electoral corruption. Her current research examines the political responses to antiparliamentarism in both contemporary and historical settings.

Professor Mares is the author of five books. These include The Politics of Social Risk: Business and Welfare State Development (New York: Cambridge University Press 2003), Taxation, Wage Bargaining and Unemployment (New York: Cambridge University Press 2006), From Open Secrets to Secret Voting (New York: Cambridge University Press 2015), Conditionality and Coercion: Electoral clientelism in Eastern Europe (co-authored with Lauren Young, Oxford University Press 2018) and Protecting the Ballot: How First Wave Democracies Ended Electoral Corruption (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2022)."

*If you need any disability-related accommodation, please contact Shannon Johnson at Requests should be made by May 16, 2024.