Marina Costa Lobo and José Pereira, “Preferential Voting Rules, District Magnitude and the Expression of Preferences on the Ballot: A Field Experiment” (2nd March, 2017)

Marina presented. Here’s the abstract:

“This article analyses the predictors of preferential in flexible list systems. It does so by using the results of an experimental survey carried out in Portugal, an exit poll which was took place on the legislative election day in 2015. Following the extant literature, and the gaps in the knowledge, the following hypotheses are tested, namely: the importance of political sophistication, voting rules and district size for expressing preference votes. Of the four indicators chosen to measure political sophistication, namely education, political interest, gender and age, only political interest is a significant predictor of preferential voting. A ballot which presents no alternative to expressing a preferential vote systematically makes a significant difference, compared to an optional preferential ballot. District size makes a difference only when the voting rules are considered: when compulsory voting is considered, it increases to a significant degree in average-sized districts. Finally, political interest tends to lose its significance when the voting rules are compulsory. The article therefore shows that preferential voting does not constitute an obstacle for those with less political sophistication to express a vote, especially when the voting rules make preferential voting compulsory.”

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Luís de Sousa, “Survey methods applied to the study of corruption: challenges and advice” (16th February, 2017)

Luís prepared a discussion on the uses of survey research to study corruption. What are the recurrent problems/challenges resulting from the use of survey methods to measure/assess normative issues such as corruption, and what can we do, as social scientists, to mitigate them through the various methodological options available?

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Raquel Rego and Vasco Ramos, “Perceptions on the trade union’s use of the Internet – the uneasy of the board”(January 18th, 2017

Raquel presented a paper she wrote together with Vasco. Here’s the abstract:

Much has been written on the importance of the Internet for the trade unions revitalisation but less is known on the perception of workers on how the Internet is being used by trade unions, especially considering the heterogeneous composition of the labour force. In this sense, we conducted a survey in a Southern European country where protests in the education sector have increased in recent years as a reaction to austerity policies. Our findings stress that both unionised and non-unionised, ‘permanent’ and ‘flexible’ school teachers consider that the Internet may allow an easier and broader participation on union debates. Moreover, they support the possibility of a pre-strike ballot using an electronic device. In fact, only board members remain uneasy with such developments.

 

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Anna Kandyla, “Who are the citizens’ in the European Citizens’ Initiative?” (December 7th, 14.30).

Anna, who is visiting from the EUI, presented a paper on the European Citizens’s Initiative, a draft chapter on her dissertation. Here’s a paragraph describing her objectives:

“The chapter begins with a descriptive examination of the awareness and appeal of the ECI among the public. Section 2 then defines the character of the ECI as a form of participation targeting the EU and discusses the ways in which a) individual skills, and b) attitudes towards both the EU and the national levels of governance relate to the likelihood to participate in the ECI. The literature is reviewed and testable hypotheses are developed. The hypotheses are tested with cross-sectional Eurobarometer survey data covering the period 2012 to 2015. The chapter concludes with discussion of what the results of the analyses tell us about the prospects of citizen engagement in EU-level politics beyond elections.”