Latin American Party Systems and Political Protest

Political representation is at the center of my current research. The differences in the quality of representation in Latin America are enormous, and I seek to identify the historical and contemporary determinants of these differences. The consequences of good or bad representation are alo far-reaching. Where parties mirror the preferences of their voters, left-wing populist leaders will find it difficult to rally support, and most grievances will be channeled into the electoral arena. Where the traditional parties have proven unresponsive to their voters, on the other hand, anti-establishment mobilization finds fertile ground, and political conflict is more likely to be expressed in the protest arena. Learn more


Social Identities and Social Structure in 21st Century Electoral Politics – How Understandings of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ Translate into Voting Behavior

In a project with Delia Zollinger, Silja Häusermann, Lukas Haffert and Marco Steenbergen (all UZH), we study the social identity element of the contemporary cleavage between universalistic and particularistic conceptions of community. Using original survey data, we tap into the shared understandings and group boundaries of the social groups situated on the two sides of this cleavage. Learn more


Populist Mobilization Across Space and Time

How much do instances of populist mobilization across space and time have in common? Drawing on my work on right-wing populism in Western Europe and left-wing populism in Latin America, I emphasize the common role of failures of political representation in shaping populist potentials. Beyond this commonality and those related to populist ideas at the elite and mass levels, it is important to reflect upon what we gain and what we lose from sight by focusing on the commonalities between parties based on their populist appeals, when populist parties differ dramatically in terms of the substantive ideologies they adhere to. It is imperative to make research on populism cumulative by building upon prior work on specific contexts and party families.

This project grew out of my participation in Team Populism, a network of scholars from Europe and the Americas to study the causes and consequences of populism:

Research Projects

Cleavage Formation in Latin American Party Systems

This project used comparative history to analyze two critical junctures that have shaped South American party systems. It then develops a quantitative measurement of party system responsiveness to test the historical predictions and to chart diverging party system trajectories during Latin America’s “Left Turn”.