Bonnie Field, Ph.D.

Bentley University

Phone: 781.891.2865

City: Waltham, Massachusetts

Country: United States

About Me:

Bonnie N. Field has a doctorate in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is professor and chairperson in the department of global studies at Bentley University in Massachusetts. Her research interests center on political parties and political institutions in transitional and institutionalized democracies in Europe and Latin America. She has particular expertise in contemporary Spain. She investigates territorial politics, legislative politics and governance in parliamentary regimes, processes of candidate selection and political appointments, and regime democratization. Her recent book, Why Minority Governments Work: Multilevel Territorial Politics in Spain (Palgrave), examines the performance of minority parliamentary governments in conjunction with the territorial distribution of state power and the territorial interests of political parties. She is a local Affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and an affiliated researcher at the Observatory of Coalition Governments in Spain, University of Barcelona. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the Center for European Studies at Harvard, a visiting researcher at the Universities of Barcelona and Oslo, Faculty Fellow at the University of California, Irvine, Visiting Fellow at UCI's Center for the Study of Democracy, and Fulbright Senior Researcher in Spain.

Research Interests

Comparative Political Institutions

Comparative Democratization

European Politics

Legislative Politics

Political Parties and Interest Groups

Parliamentary Regimes

Minority Governments

Territorial Politics

Candidate Selection


Catalan Politics

Countries of Interest



Journal Articles:

(2018) The Push for Independence in Catalonia, with Astrid Barrio, Nature Human Behaviour

In 2017, Catalonia unilaterally declared independence from Spain. The independence push was not simply a bottom-up process wherein citizens increasingly demanded independence. Catalan political elites were more radical than voters and competitive outbidding to win hegemony in the pro-independence camp fuelled the independence push.

(2015) Framing Legislative Bills in Parliament: Regional-Nationalist Parties’ Strategies in Spain’s Multinational Democracy, with Kerstin Hamann, Party Politics

This article analyzes the strategies parties employ during the inter-electoral phase of party competition. It focuses on Spain’s multi-national democracy and how regional-nationalist parties frame their policy proposals in the statewide parliament (Congress of Deputies) for the period 1979–2011. Using the Catalan Convergence and Union (CiU) and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), it examines how frequently the parties rhetorically connect their bill proposals to the center-periphery dimension of party competition, and their justifications of these proposals in parliamentary debate. Challenging the niche party thesis, our findings indicate that the parties frame a small share of bills in center-periphery terms. They most frequently justify their center-periphery bills with reference to legal-constitutional compliance and administrative efficiency and less frequently with reference to culture, citizen rights, and economic performance. This can in part be explained by the fact that these parties are mainstream parties within their regions and operate in a clearly demarcated two-dimensional space in a multilevel state.

(2015) The Evolution of Sub-State Nationalist Parties as Statewide Parliamentary Actors: CiU and PNV in Spain, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics

This contribution examines party competition between the Catalan Convergence and Union (CiU) and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), two substate nationalist parties, and the statewide governing party based on the degree to which they ally in Spain's statewide parliament. It demonstrates that party competition during statewide minority governments is quite cooperative, though with variation, and statewide majority governments are associated with less cooperation. The weight of properiphery stances in the nationalist parties’ manifestos does not explain the patterns of party competition. In part, their behavior is associated with opportunities to influence policy and interparty competition in their respective regions.

(2014) Minority Parliamentary Government and Multilevel Politics: Spain’s System of Mutual Back Scratching, Comparative Politics

This article analyzes how multilevel territorial politics impact the performance of minority parliamentary governments. It tests whether the governing status of a regional party at the regional level—whether it is governing, and, if so, in which type of cabinet—affects its level of support for a statewide party governing in minority at the national level. Using the Spanish case, it concludes that governing dynamics at the regional level affect regional parties' behavior in the national parliament. Furthermore, a regional party's support for the national government is, in part, dependent upon its own need for support to govern in its region. Both findings suggest that particular regional governing dynamics can assure or complicate a minority government's ability to attain the parliamentary support necessary to govern.

Books Written:

(2016) Why Minority Governments Work: Multilevel Territorial Politics in Spain, Palgrave Macmillan

This book is an examination of minority government performance in conjunction with the territorial distribution of state power and the territorial interests of political parties. It examines political institutions, and the reconcilability of party goals and the contingent bargaining circumstances, in multilevel and territorial perspectives.

(2013) Politics and Society in Contemporary Spain: From Zapatero to Rajoy, edited with Alfonso Botti, Palgrave Macmillan

This edited volume examines the political, social, and economic developments in contemporary Spain, with a particular focus on the period of the Socialist government (2008-11), the 2011 elections, and the challenges facing Spain and the new Popular Party government.

(2011) Spain’s “Second Transition”? The Socialist Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Routledge

Few would have imagined the developments and the extent of reforms that occurred under Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero between 2004 and 2008. Under Zapatero, Spain rapidly withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq, held a very public political debate on the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship, passed very progressive social legislation that included gay marriage and adoption as well as a sweeping gender equality act, and expanded autonomy in six of Spain’s 17 regions. It has become quite common to refer to some or all of these developments as a ‘second transition’ that alters or revisits policies, institutional arrangements and political strategies that were established during Spain’s transition to democracy. This book analyzes the patterns of continuity and change and provides a nuanced, critical evaluation of the concept of a ‘second transition’. Three broad questions are addressed. First, to what degree do the developments under Zapatero’s Socialist government represent a departure from prior patterns of Spanish politics? Second, what accounts for the continuities and departures? Finally, the project begins to assess the implications of these developments. Are there lasting effects, for example, on political participation, electoral alignments, interparty and inter-regional relations more broadly?

(2008) Democracy and Institutional Development: Spain in Comparative Theoretical Perspective, edited with Kerstin Hamann, Palgrave Macmillan

This book analyzes Spanish political parties and institutions in comparative theoretical perspective. Two primary themes are addressed: institutionalization and the distribution of institutionalization in the polity, and the relationship between institutional design and representation .

Media Appearances:

Radio Appearances:

(2019) BBC World Service

Interview on the results of Spain's parliamentary elections

(2018) BBC World Service

5 minute interview on the vote of no confidence against the Popular Party government in Spain

Newspaper Quotes:

(2019) The Nation

Quote on the difficulty of forming a government in Spain.

(2019) BBC World News

Quote in anticipation of the parliamentary elections in Spain


Quoted on failed government negotiations and elections in Spain

(2018) New York Times

Quoted on the vote of no confidence against the Popular Party government in Spain

(2017) The Washington Post

Quoted on the Catalan crisis in Spain

(2017) Nuevos Papeles (Argentina)

Published interview on the Catalan crisis

(2017) El País (Spain)

On Catalonia & Spain

(2016) El País (Spain)

News article on party discipline in Spain

Blog Posts:

(2019) The Monkey Cage—The Washington Post

"Is something wrong with Spain's political leaders?" On the difficulty of forming a government in Spain.

(2019) Agenda Pública—El País

"El consenso y la unidad constitucionales, en cifras." On consensus and unity during Spain's transition to democracy (in Spanish)

(2019) El món de demà-La Vanguardia

“Funcionen els governs minoritaris a Espanya?” On minority governments in Spain. Post in Catalan and in Spanish at the link.

(2019) The Monkey Cage—The Washington Post

“Can Spain’s elections on Sunday deliver a functioning government?” with Juan Rodríguez Teruel

(2018) Agenda Pública, el Periódico

"El PNV con los gobiernos en minoría en España." On the behavior of the Basque PNV during minority governments in Spain. Post in Spanish.

(2018) Psychology Today

"Framing the 2018 Elections: #TrustBlackWomen", with Kristin J. Anderson. On gender, framing and the US elections.

(2018) European Politics & Policy (EUROPP) Blog, London School of Economics

"Finding a way out of the Catalan labyrinth," with Astrid Barrio.

(2017) The Monkey Cage—The Washington Post

"Is Spain Francoland? No. Has the Catalan crisis damaged Spanish democracy? Yes.", with Astrid Barrio

(2017) Georgetown Journal of International Affairs

“What’s Going on in Catalonia?”, with Astrid Barrio

(2017) London School of Economics and Political Science, European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) Blog

“Without a drastic change in approach, further conflict appears inevitable in Catalonia,” with Astrid Barrio

(2017) The Monkey Cage—The Washington Post

“Spain is trying to block Catalonia’s independence referendum tomorrow. What’s going on?”, with Astrid Barrio

(2016) London School of Economics and Political Science, European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) Blog

“Will the new Rajoy minority government in Spain work?”

(2016) Who Governs in Europe Blog

“Do regional-nationalist parties emphasize the territorial divide in the national parliament? Some lessons from Spain,” with Kerstin Hamann

(2016) Presidential Power Blog

“Forming a government in Spain: The influence of Spain’s first experience with mass democracy”

(2015) London School of Economics and Political Science, European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) Blog

“How the next Spanish government might be formed after Spain’s election”