Address: 16 Richmond Street, McCance Building
City: Glasgow, Scotland - G1 1QX
Country: United Kingdom
My research is synthetic and problem driven. It spans comparative political systems, political parties, executives, ministerial careers, comparative and international political economy and the politics of welfare state reform. Informed by these many avenues of inquiry, I explore and theorize the process of policy-making in parliamentary democracies, providing original answers to long-standing debates in the literature. Some of the questions I address in my work are: Do individual politicians make a difference for policy? How representative are party governments representative of their parties? Are strong leaders good for their parties? Do parties’ electoral promises shape policy in multiparty cabinets? Why are some countries better able to reform their pension and tax system than others? What does it take for governments to stabilize inflation? How do trade unions shape tax systems in industrialized countries?
Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics
Comparative Political Institutions
Political Parties and Interest Groups
In my book, Ideologues, Partisans and Loyalists, I relax the assumption that politicians are perfect agents of their political party. I empirically demonstrate that ministerial appointments have real and important effects on social welfare and labour market reforms. Relaxing the party unity assumption seems inevitable at a time when political parties are experiencing major ideological transformation and intra-party conflict. At the same time, not all politicians are equally competent. Some are charismatic and policy entrepreneurs, some are primarily career driven, and others are very ideological. The challenge is how to identify the policy entrepreneurs from those who implement their party’s or their party leader’s agenda.I propose a typology of ministers based on ministers’ office and policy ambitions, as well as their political skill. Loyalists are loyal to their party leader and prioritize office over policy; partisans are party heavyweights and aspiring leaders; and ideologues have fixed policy ideas and are unwilling to compromise for the perks of holding office. With the aid of a formal bargaining model, I predict that only ideologues and partisans can effectively change policy, above and beyond what their government mandates. The reason is simple: ideologues will not compromise over their personal policy agenda because this is the overarching reason they are in government, while partisans see their role as policy entrepreneurs as a way to advance their career and their party’s electoral chances. In contrast, for loyalists their appointment to a cabinet portfolio is their ultimate reward and opportunity to prove their commitment and managerial skills to their leader. They will not risk their job for not being able to pursue their personal policy agenda.I find strong empirical support for my theory: left ideologues and left partisans have been instrumental in expanding the welfare state, while right ideologues have been behind major social welfare cuts. Loyalists have no independent policy effect. These effects help us understand social welfare and labour market reforms during the last thirty years better than the ideological orientation of parliamentary cabinets.