Making the Absent Present

Digital Technology and Representation of Minority Groups in Brazilian Politics

by Thamy Pogrebinschi and Iná Chaves

When it is not deployed to misinform, distort the truth, or spread fake news, may the internet improve the political representation of minority groups? Prompted by this question, we (Thamy Pogrebinschi, WZB Berlin, and Iná Chaves, OAS) analyzed electoral campaigns in the Brazilian municipal elections in 2020 and conducted interviews with candidates and elected representatives. We found that digital technologies ease the breaking down of communicative barriers in electoral campaigns and expand the participatory dimension of elected office. Our conclusions point that digitalization could enable the expansion of descriptive representation and its conversion into a more responsive form of substantive representation.

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The Republican Party, Trump, and two election platforms – From Conservatism to Emotional Polarization?

by Tobias Burst, Pola Lehmann, Sven Regel, Bernhard Weßels and Lisa Zehnter

The upcoming US presidential election is special in many respects. One of the predominant features is Donald Trump, who dominates the political discourse from the side of the Republicans. In August this year he published his agenda for the next term – which is truly his agenda, because the Republican Party refrained from offering a new election platform. Does Trump represent the party’s positions or has the party rallied behind Trump? In this article we (Tobias Burst, Pola Lehmann, Sven Regel, Bernhard Weßels and Lisa Zehnter from the Manifesto Project at WZB Berlin) look at the extent to which Trump’s agenda differs from the 2016 Republican manifesto, how many of the issues are already well known from Trump’s Twitter feed, and what voter groups and preferences he is trying to address.

© Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America

The 2020 US Presidential Election: The Forecasts are in

by Arndt Leininger, Research Fellow at the Chair for Political Sociology of Germany at Freie Universität Berlin

The world is looking forward to the US presidential election in anticipation. This, of course, also applies to political science, where colleagues have been working on election forecasting models for many years. In the past, such forecasts often succeeded in predicting the election with surprising accuracy weeks or even months before it happened. But in 2016, forecasters, just as the general public, were taken by surprise. Most forecasters correctly predicted that the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, would win the so-called Popular Vote. However, the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, collected a majority of the votes in the Electoral College and was elected 45th President of the United States. Against the backdrop of the surprising 2016 election, in addition to the corona pandemic and ensuing economic downturn, the 2020 US Presidential election seems to be most challenging to forecast yet. In this blog post, guest author Arndt Leininger (FU Berlin) presents the scientific election forecasts for the upcoming election, which have been published in the October issue of the journal ‘PS Political Science and Politics.’

++++German Teaser +++

Die Welt sieht den US-Präsidentschaftswahlen gespannt entgegen. Dies gilt natürlich auch für die Politikwissenschaft, wo Kolleg*innen seit vielen Jahren an Modellen zur Wahlprognose arbeiten. In der Vergangenheit ist es mit solchen Prognosemodellen oft gelungen, den Wahlausgang Wochen oder sogar Monate im Voraus mit überraschender Genauigkeit vorherzusagen. Doch im Jahr 2016 wurden die Politikwissenschaft, wie auch die breite Öffentlichkeit, überrascht. Die meisten sagten richtig voraus, dass die Kandidatin der Demokraten, Hillary Clinton, den sogenannten Popular Vote gewinnen würde. Der republikanische Kandidat, Donald Trump, erhielt jedoch die Mehrheit der Stimmen im Electoral College und wurde zum 45. Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten gewählt. Vor dem Hintergrund der überraschenden Wahl 2016, zusätzlich zur Corona-Pandemie und dem darauf folgenden wirtschaftlichen Abschwung, scheint die US-Präsidentschaftswahl 2020 die bisher schwierigste für Wahlprognosen zu werden. In diesem Blog-Beitrag stellt unser Gastautor Arndt Leininger (FU Berlin) wissenschaftliche Wahlprognosen für die bevorstehende Wahl vor, welche in der Oktoberausgabe der Zeitschrift ‘PS Political Science and Politics’ veröffentlicht wurden.

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Democracy and the Great Pestilence

by Prof. John Keane

Sensationalism has focused on fistfights over toilet rolls, but the real story is the withdrawal of democratic oversight, and how little public resistance there is to the declaration of martial law. Power granted is power conceded; and power relinquished is power reclaimed with difficulty.

© Xsandra E+

The Italian Re(in)volution of August

by Rebecca Farulli

In this blog piece, WZB intern Rebecca Farulli (Sant’Anna School of Advance Studies – University of Trento) offers a picture over the recent government crisis in Italy and the road ahead for the current political coalition born out of it in contrasting far-right narratives and electoral success.

L’aula della Camera in occasione dell’iniziativa “Montecitorio a porte aperte”. Roma 9 novembre 2014. ANSA/ANGELO CARCONI

A civic demos of communitarian demoi – An argument on the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’

by Carsten Gerards

Debating democracy, legitimacy and representation in the EU usually revolves around the European Parliament – a discourse that is not living up to the bloc’s particular nature as a ‘people of peoples’. Contrary, our guest author Carsten Gerards (College of Europe) argues in this blog post, that member states’ parliaments must become an integral part of the equation, both keeping their governments on a short(er) leash and counterbalancing the supranational institutions.

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Studying populism and distinguishing it from other -isms

by Lazaros Karavasilis

Populism is one of the most defining elements of contemporary politics, but how do we avoid the danger of conflating populism with nationalism, racism or even fascism? WZB visiting researcher Lazaros Karavasilis examines the differences that exist with populism and other –isms, while suggesting alternatives for the improvement of studying populism.

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The Slovak Presidential Elections: A Tale of Two Strategies

by Seongcheol Kim

The first round of the Slovak presidential elections took place on March 16, 2019, with Zuzana Čaputová of Progressive Slovakia and Smer-backed Maroš Šefčovič advancing to the second round taking place on March 30. WZB researcher Seongcheol Kim examines the contrasting discursive strategies of the two candidates in the election campaign thus far, especially their competing attempts to appeal to conservative voters.

sources: David Duducz for and Jozef Jakubčo for SME

The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation



What do the so-called Meiji restorations in Japan in the 1860s, the great transformations to Bolshevism and fascism in the 1920s and 1930s have in common? They’re all discussed in “The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation” edited by Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, and Hans-Jurgen Wagener. The English translation is out now:



Brexit – no end of the story or a recommendation for Theresa May’s plan B – A polemic

by Bernhard Wessels

(see German version below)

After the Brexit vote in July 2016 there is a clear answer for the supporters of a pure majority rule, certainly not for someone who regards democracy as the rule of as many as possible. Only 37.4 percent of the registered electorate and only 34.3 percent of the voting-age population voted for “leave” (see blog post “Brexit: Risk and fun of majority rule and direct democracy” (29.06.2016)). In Germany, the people would not even get a chance to vote. However, such a decision would have to pass first and second chamber, i.e. the Bundesrat and the Bundestag with two-thirds majority. Applied to the population a similar quorum would be appropriate.

Not the same in Great Britain! One may stick to a pure majority rule but the withdrawal of a decision should be based on a majority at least as large as that for the decision.

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