Prior scholarship overlooks the capacity of other actors to raise the political costs of unilateral action by turning public opinion against the president. Through a series of five experiments embedded in nationally representative surveys, we demonstrate Congress's ability to erode support for unilateral actions by raising both constitutional and policy-based objections to the exercise of unilateral power. Congressional challenges to the unilateral president diminish support for executive action across a range of policy areas in both the foreign and domestic realm and are particularly influential when they explicitly argue that presidents are treading on congressional prerogatives. We also find evidence that constitutional challenges are more effective when levied by members of Congress than by other actors. The results resolve a debate in the literature and suggest a mechanism through which Congress might exercise a constraint on the president, even when it is unable to check him legislatively.
Profound differences exist in how Americans from various racial and ethnic groups view police and court officials. We argue that vicarious experiences contribute to this racial and ethnic divide. Drawing on research on social communication, social network composition, and negativity biases in perception and judgment, we devise a theoretical framework to articulate why vicarious experiences magnify racial and ethnic disparities in evaluations of judicial actors. Four hypotheses are tested using original survey data from the state of Washington. Results provide strong evidence that vicarious experiences influence citizens’ evaluations of both police and courts, and they do so in a manner that widens racial divides in how those actors are perceived.
This introductory article discusses current challenges in quality of democracy research, explains the objectives of this Special Issue, and provides a brief overview of controversies in existing indices that are considered by the contributors to this Special Issue.
While the definition of extended conceptions of democracy has been widely discussed, the measurement of these constructs has not attracted similar attention. In this article we present new measures of polyarchy, liberal democracy, deliberative democracy, egalitarian democracy, and participatory democracy that cover most polities in the period 1900 to 2013. These indices are based on data from a large number of indicators collected through the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project. We present and discuss the theoretical considerations and the concrete formula underlying the aggregation of indicators and components into high level measures of democracy. In addition, we show how these measures reflect variations in quality of democracy, given the respective ideals, in 2012. In the conclusion scholars are encouraged to make use of the rich dataset made available by V-Dem.
In political philosophy, economic theory and public discourse, there is a seemingly endless debate on what the essence of equality and freedom is and what relation between the two is essential to a good political order. Views range from the conviction that too much socio-economic equality jeopardises freedom to the position that a certain level of equality is necessary for the proper realisation of freedom. Building on these conflicting normative claims, we look at data from more than 50 established and emerging democracies for a period of more than 20 years to investigate whether there is indeed a trade-off between freedom and equality or whether they are mutually reinforcing. In the process, we distinguish between two types of equality – political and socio-economic. Our findings suggest that there is a positive relationship between freedom and both types of equality – even if we control for the level of economic development.
The internal relationships of the dimensions of democracy: The relevance of trade-offs for measuring the quality of democracy
Definitions of democracy almost always refer to dimensions. An important question arises about the internal relationships between them. This article presents arguments in favor of the ideas of mutual reinforcement as well as of intrinsic tensions or trade-offs. A well-known example of these kinds of trade-offs is the complex relationship between liberty and equality. Surprisingly, trade-offs are not reported when measuring democracy. The article identifies the basic methodological problem and develops a new strategy for evaluating the indicators which makes trade-offs visible in the empirical research. The proposal combines two measurement strategies, arguing that in addition to established measurements of democracy, a further measurement to assess trade-offs should be employed.
There are already a number of good accounts of the impact of the recent 2008–2014 economic crisis on European democracies. However, no systematic assessments of how it has affected specific aspects of democracy have so far been carried out. We explore its impact on European democracies in several areas by adopting the ‘quality of democracy’ framework. Our analysis shows that the measures we employ capture the variation in quality during this ‘troubled’ period. The empirical analysis suggests that a shrinking of private and public resources due to an economic downturn prompts three reactions: (a) a general deterioration of the rule of law; (b) citizens become more sensitive about what governments deliver; and (c) detachment from the institutional channels of representation along with a choice to protest.
In this paper we argue that the concept of democratic quality consists of two necessary, but independently insufficient, components. The first is an opportunity-structure component, which includes the institutional and structural opportunities that allow for democratic rule. The second is a citizen component, which refers to the ways in which citizens can and do breathe life into existing institutional opportunities for democratic rule. Based on work from political theory we show how different ontologies or models of democracy place different demands on citizens as much as they do on institutions. We demonstrate the need for quality-of-democracy research to engage with work in political behavior and political psychology, from which it has traditionally been disconnected. In doing so, we provide a parsimonious analytic framework for a theory-driven selection of indicators related to three key citizen dispositions: namely, democratic commitments, political capacities, and political participation. The paper ends with a brief discussion of important implications of our argument for the future study of democratic quality.
New indices measuring the quality of democracy constitute a significant innovation in comparative political science. They might, however, provide a biased perspective because they largely focus on macro-level criteria. Thus, the question is whether the measurement of the quality of democracy can be improved by complementing the evaluations of these indices with assessments based on individual-level survey data. Using data from 20 established democracies in the European Social Survey 2012 and the Democracy Barometer, we compare the understandings and evaluations of the quality of democracy underlying these two measurement approaches. We demonstrate that while the results coincide to a certain extent, individual-level data provide an important complementary perspective that adds to the validity of the measurement of the quality of democracy.
Should participatory opportunities be a component of democratic quality? The role of citizen views in resolving a conceptual controversy
There is consensus in quality-of-democracy research on the role of electoral participation, but what about participatory opportunities beyond elections? Non-electoral participatory opportunities have been neglected in most measurements. Recent indices, however, include these opportunities as indicators of democratic quality. Should non-electoral participatory opportunities be considered an essential component of democratic quality? To answer this question and to address the controversy, I examined three established approaches. On the basis of this examination, it became clear that a novel approach was necessary. By applying the recently emerging debate on ‘democratising’ the definition of democracy, I argue that the controversy among experts needs to be connected to citizens’ concepts. An approach that takes citizens’ concepts into account implies several conceptual as well as methodological challenges. The paper suggests some solutions.
Digital media is ascribed significant potential for democratizing political communication and processes. There is still, however, a lack of empirical evidence and adequate understanding concerning the question of whether digital media can contribute to an improvement in democratic quality. In response to this question, the present article proposes a concept of e-democracy and an analytical framework for measuring it. The added value of such an e-democracy index is, firstly, that it provides a basis for assessing online-enhanced democratic processes (something which has previously been lacking) and, secondly, that it enables a finer-grained perspective on digital processes in democracies, something which is essential for scholars and practitioners.
Most studies of democratic developments are limited to the period after World War II. However, political regimes varied according to different aspects of democracy long before the establishment of modern liberal mass democracies. We come down strongly in favor of collecting disaggregate and fine-grained historical data on democratic features. Based on a distinction between competition, participation, and constraints on the executive, we discuss previous attempts at historical measurement and address the specific challenges that pertain to scoring political regimes in, first, the "long 19th century" and, second, medieval and early modern Europe.
Why, as a comparativist, did I find it compelling to carry out field research in over 20 countries on five different continents? Because comparative politics should be question-driven, not driven by methodology or existing data. Good questions led to new countries. My book on how Brazilian civilian elites were complicit in coups led to a comparative book on how to transform such civil–military relations in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. My colleague Juan J Linz and I broadened the scope of questions of democratic transition theory by adding post-communist countries to the transition set. New questions and relevant new countries continue to emerge. What to do if more than one nation exists in a polity pursuing ‘nation-state’ policies? I helped create the concept of ‘state-nation’ and documented how ‘multiple but complementary identities’ were fostered in India. How did polities that respected the ‘twin tolerations’ emerge in Muslim-majority Indonesia, Senegal, and Tunisia?
The appropriateness of experiments for studying causal mechanisms is well established. However, the ability of an experiment to isolate the effect of emotion has received less attention, and in this letter we lay out a guide to manipulating and tracing the impact of emotions. Some experimental manipulations are straightforward. Manipulating an emotion like anxiety is less obvious. There is no magic "political anxiety pill" and placebo that can be randomly assigned to participants. While the magic political anxiety pill is still elusive, we advocate using multiple manipulations, extensive pretesting, and mediation models. These approaches have allowed us to situate a discrete emotional experience in a complex political environment.
Many political processes consist of a series of theoretically meaningful transitions across discrete phases that occur through time. Yet political scientists are often theoretically interested in studying not just individual transitions between phases, but also the duration that subjects spend within phases, as well as the effect of covariates on subjects’ trajectories through the process’s multiple phases. We introduce the multistate survival model to political scientists, which is capable of modeling precisely this type of situation. The model is appealing because of its ability to accommodate multiple forms of causal complexity that unfold over time. In particular, we highlight three attractive features of multistate models: transition-specific baseline hazards, transition-specific covariate effects, and the ability to estimate transition probabilities. We provide two applications to illustrate these features.
Standards of Good Practice and the Methodology of Necessary Conditions in Qualitative Comparative Analysis
The analysis of necessary conditions for some outcome of interest has long been one of the main preoccupations of scholars in all disciplines of the social sciences. In this connection, the introduction of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) in the late 1980s has revolutionized the way research on necessary conditions has been carried out. Standards of good practice for QCA have long demanded that the results of preceding tests for necessity constrain QCA’s core process of Boolean minimization so as to enhance the quality of parsimonious and intermediate solutions. Schneider and Wagemann’s Theory-Guided/Enhanced Standard Analysis (T/ESA) is currently being adopted by applied researchers as the new state-of-the-art procedure in this respect. In drawing on Schneider and Wagemann’s own illustrative data example and a meta-analysis of thirty-six truth tables across twenty-one published studies that have adhered to current standards of good practice in QCA, I demonstrate that, once bias against compound conditions in necessity tests is accounted for, T/ESA will produce conservative solutions, and not enhanced parsimonious or intermediate ones.
Political scientists frequently wish to test hypotheses about the effects of specific emotions on political behavior. However, commonly used experimental manipulations tend to have collateral effects on emotions other than the targeted emotion, making it difficult to ascribe outcomes to any single emotion. In this letter, we propose to address this problem using causal mediation analysis. We illustrate this approach using an experiment examining the effect of emotion on dyadic trust, as measured by the trust game. Our findings suggest that negative emotions can decrease trust, but only if those negative emotions make people feel less certain about their current situation. Our results suggest that only anxiety, a low-certainty emotion, has a negative impact on trust, whereas anger and guilt, two emotions that differ in their control appraisals but induce the same high level of certainty, appear to have no effect on trusting behavior. Importantly, we find that failing to use causal mediation analysis would ascribe a positive effect of anxiety on trust, demonstrating the value of this approach.
Retrospective Causal Inference with Machine Learning Ensembles: An Application to Anti-recidivism Policies in Colombia
We present new methods to estimate causal effects retrospectively from micro data with the assistance of a machine learning ensemble. This approach overcomes two important limitations in conventional methods like regression modeling or matching: (i) ambiguity about the pertinent retrospective counterfactuals and (ii) potential misspecification, overfitting, and otherwise bias-prone or inefficient use of a large identifying covariate set in the estimation of causal effects. Our method targets the analysis toward a well-defined "retrospective intervention effect" based on hypothetical population interventions and applies a machine learning ensemble that allows data to guide us, in a controlled fashion, on how to use a large identifying covariate set. We illustrate with an analysis of policy options for reducing ex-combatant recidivism in Colombia.