Research

I am primarily interested in the role of political institutions in the quality of democratic representation. My dissertation work focuses on party vote unity in national parliaments and derives its empirics from the largest dataset of roll call votes from 33 national parliaments, as well as interviews with members of the Romanian parliament. It is the first work to unequivocally confirm the role of the vote of confidence procedure in the degree of party vote unity. Three chapters of the dissertation have been published as articles and can be found here.

 

Also, the roll-call data are available here.

 

I am currently working on a research project that looks at what determines a central government’s choice to distribute funds to certain regions/ groups as opposed to others. An expansive literature has dealt with how central governments disburse their funds, and which territorial units are more likely to receive these funds. These works have emphasized how certain groups react better than others to government handouts based on their ideological inclinations, and have claimed that governments should target either core-support voters or swing voters.

I take a novel approach to the topic and emphasize the role of local elites. The argument put forward is simple: governments should target primarily territorial units with local leaders affiliated with the parties in government. I identify two causal mechanisms that link the political affiliation of local elites to the receipt of government funds: (1) central leaders share the credit for the funds allocated with local leaders, and to get the most benefits they are more likely to allocate funds to territories with leaders from the same party who act as vehicles for government credit claim; (2) central and local leaders engage in an exchange of perks game in which local leaders mobilise local resources in national electoral campaigns and receive in exchange funds from the government, which in turn help these local elites build a reputation and increase their re-election chances. The extent to which various local leaders matter should be contingent on various institutional features such as the way they are elected or the degree of local authority. 

 

Two empirical papers related to this project can be found here.

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© Emanuel Coman