When voters challenge international institutions: implications at home and abroad with Stefanie Walter

Thursday, January 19, 2023 | 12:00 PM (Pacific)
William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
Stefanie Walter

Voter-endorsed challenges to international institutions present a growing problem for international cooperation. This talk discusses the challenges that unilateral, voter-endorsed attempts by one member state to withdraw from or renegotiate the terms of existing international institutions create for the institution’s other member states. It argues that such voter-endorsed “cooperation challenges” tend to reverberate abroad: First, they influence public and elite views about the merits of the international institution and thus can create contagion effects, but can also have stabilizing effects depending on how the they highlight the risks and opportunities associated with exit and renegotiation. Second, the loss of, or change in the distribution of, cooperation gains can have considerable effects on the institutions’ other member states.

Finally, these reverberations abroad influence how member states respond to unilateral voter-endorsed “cooperation challenges.” Drawing on comparative case studies of a diverse set of voter-endorsed challenges to international institutions and on survey evidence from the EU-27 as well as a panel of Swiss respondents, the talk shows that this framework can help us better understand the (non-)existence of contagion effects across member states, variation in the responses of the remaining member states to voter-endorsed challenges to international institutions, and the ultimate outcomes of such cooperation challenges.


Stefanie Walter is Full Professor for International Relations and Political Economy at the Department of Political Science at the University of Zurich. Her research examines distributional conflicts, political preferences and economic policy outcomes related to globalization, European integration, and financial crises. Current projects examine the backlash against globalization, and challenges to international cooperation.

Stefanie Walter’s work has been published in journals such as the Annual Review of Political Science, American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, and International Organization. She is the author of “Financial Crises and the Politics of Macroeconomic Adjustments” (2013, Cambridge University Press) and co-author of “The Politics of Bad Options” (2020, Oxford University Press).

*If you need any disability-related accommodation, please contact Shannon Johnson at sj1874@stanford.edu. Requests should be made by January 12, 2023.