Mariana Mendes “Why has the radical right been unsuccessful in Spain and Portugal?”

Mariana Mendes presented a paper focusing on the low salience of emigration and the stigma associated with the radical right parties to justify the electoral unsuccessful of the radical right in Spain and Portugal.

Here’s the abstract:

At a time when radical right parties have been gaining electoral terrain all over Western Europe, their very marginal results in the Iberian Peninsula remains a puzzle of significant social scientific importance. In this article, we provide an overview of previous explanations of the disparity in electoral success between Iberian radical right parties and those in the rest of Western Europe, outlining what we argue to be the shortcomings of these explanations. We then propose and provide empirical evidence to support two additional explanations. The first is the anomalously low salience of immigration as a political issue in Portugal and Spain, in contrast to almost every other country in Western Europe. We explain this as the result of low irregular and Islamic immigration, high emigration and the high salience of other, primarily economic, issues following the Eurozone crises. The second is the stigma associated to the existing radical right parties in these countries, which have been unable to present themselves as ‘normal parties’. The exception is the recently formed party Vox in Spain, whose recent growth is best explained by changes in the two factors we highlight – a recent uptick in the salience of immigration and an unprecedented ‘reputational shield’.”


Pedro Magalhães “Trusting the Legal System: Independence, Accountability, and Performance”

Pedro Magalhães presented his and Nuno Garopa’s paper on independence, accountability, and performance of national judicial systems.

Here’s the abstract:

“Securing the confidence of the public is of great importance for institutions like the judiciary and the courts. This is why an empirical literature on public confidence in courts has emerged in the last decades. There are a few examples of comparative research on public trust and courts; they suggest that people living in countries where the judiciary is more “independent” are more likely to trust the judicial system. However, there is an intriguing aspect to this almost exclusive focus on independence. First, most of the academic literature on “judicial independence” does not treat it as an unqualified good. Impartiality and unbiased enforcement of the law are valuable, but situations where “independence” results in a self-regulated and unaccountable judiciary are undesirable and may also undermine public trust. Second, regardless of extent to which citizens perceive judges to be impartial or even accountable, “justice delayed is justice denied.” As much as citizens may care about the procedural aspects of judicial decision-making, they are also likely to care about the performance of the system. In this article, resorting to several waves of European Social Survey data measuring European’s trust in their legal system, we suggest that “independence” is indeed too broad a concept to account for a straightforward relationship between attributes of the judicial system and public confidence in courts. Instead, we show that while politically dependent and weak judiciaries do tend to be characterized by lower citizens’ trust, this is also the case for judiciaries with weaker mechanisms of accountability. Furthermore, we document the existence of an interaction between independence and performance in the explanation of public support for courts, in which the system’s ability to avoid delays in disposing of cases becomes particularly consequential for public trust when levels of independence are low.”


Carlos Martins “ Fascist Ideology and the Conceptual Morphological Approach: The Conceptual Configuration of Fascist Leaders”

Carlos Martins presented a part of his ongoing thesis about  the content of fascist ideology

Here’s the first paragraph:

“As stated by Adrian Lyttleton (2011: 273), when it comes to fascist studies, «the greatest advance has certainly come from taking fascist values and ideology seriously». Since the appearance of the first studies by historians such as Weber (1982 [1964]) or Nolte (1966), this tendency to take fascism seriously has allowed for this ideology to be analyzed no differently from other ideologies that are part of the political landscape of Western politics since the French Revolution: Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, Conservatism and others. With this approach, so we argue, it became possible to know more about fascist goals and worldview, which may be fundamental to understand the basis upon which fascist practices were carried out.”

Denis Sindic (ISCTE-IUL) “Leave or remain? European identification, legitimacy of European integration, and political attitudes towards the EU”

Denis Sindic presented a paper about the relationship between European identification and political support for European Union membership.

Here’s the abstract:

“In this paper, we look at the relationship between European identification and political support for (or opposition to) EU membership. First, we argue that conceptualizing political attitudes towards the EU as a direct product of European identification (a) neglects the distinction between the social reality of Europe and the political reality of the EU and (b) leads to psychological reductionism. We propose that the relationship should instead be conceptualized as mediated by legitimacy perceptions and as moderated by social‐level variables. Second, we look at three spheres of European integration and propose that their perceived legitimacy is appraised through the following principles: (a) normative solidarity for wealth sharing, (b) political authority for sharing political decisions, and (c) collective self‐realization for the sharing of practices. We illustrate the key mediating role of those principles by drawing on data from a survey ran across five European countries. Third, we argue that these meditational relationships are in turn moderated by social, political, and ideological realities and illustrate this point by looking at the case of United Kingdom in the context of the EU membership referendum. We point to an ideological assumption in the U.K. political  landscape about the illegitimacy of EU supranational decision making and argue that this contributed to shape both the debate of the referendum campaign and its result.”

Catherine Moury (UNL-FCSH) “ The Political Economy of Reversals: The cases of Spain and Portugal after the bailout (2014-2019)”

Catherine Moury presented a paper about the reforms made under external constraint and if they are maintained in the medium term and in which conditions do decisions-makers reverse those or keep them.

Here’s the first paragraph:

“The left-wing coalition in power in Portugal since 2015 is often presented as a “living” proof that the austerity policies adopted during the bail out can be reverted without economic relapse. In Spain, the brand new Socialist governments had started right way to undo reforms adopted by its rightist predecessor during the crisis. That seems to indicate that reforms adopted under conditionality do not resist partisan turnover.”


Virginia Ros “The path to the dark side; economic and cultural determinants of negative perceptions towards immigration in Spain”

Virginia Ros presented a paper about how the societal composition and the economic performance influence the perceptions of immigration in Spain

Here’s the first paragraph:

“The last ten years have seen changes in the societal composition and the economic performance of western European societies. Exploring how these two changes influence the perceptions of immigration is the main aim of this research. These changes in society might trigger negative perceptions of immigration if citizens consider that immigrants compete with them for jobs or social services. However, they might also trigger the opposite reaction if they consider that the economic situation is a more pressing issue than immigration or if the sense of solidarity prevails and immigrants are perceived as damaged by the economic circumstances as nationals.”


Miguel Maria Pereira “Who do Public Officials Learn From? A Field Experiment on Policy Diffusion”

Miguel Maria Pereira presented a paper about the motivations of public officials to learn from their peers.

Here’s the abstract

“This study uses a field experiment in collaboration with a non-profit organization to explore the motivations of public officials to learn from their peers. As part of an email campaign promoting a new policy among local officials, I randomized whether the program was endorsed by co-partisans, out-partisans, or early adopters from both parties. Overall, the study shows that representatives systematically reveal more interest in the program when endorsed by co-partisans. I advance two potential explanations for this bias in learning: partisanship being used as a cue for ideological congruence, or affective polarization. Additional analyses show that bipartisan endorsements attract no more interest than policies endorsed exclusively by out-partisans, even in competitive contexts where moderate positions could attract wider support. Together, the results suggest that partisan-based learning is motivated more by ingroup favoritism than ideological goals. Implications for the study of policy diffusion and interest group access are discussed.”

Miguel Maria