Research in Progress

Party systems and social cleavages in new democracies: 

Skipping Class: Tunisia’s Party System After the Revolution (book manuscript in progress)

Left-Right distributive politics are central to comparative politics and to the study of democratization. But despite this theoretical importance, party systems in many new democracies furnish few stark choices regarding economic policy, instead politicizing other social cleavages. The project arises out of a detailed case study of Tunisia, where the postuprising party system has offered far starker choices with regard to religious and national identity than to problems of economic policy. Using computer-assisted text analysis of campaign materials, as well as elite interviews, I show that Tunisian political parties in 2011 and 2014 did not offer much choice with regard to the role of the state in economic policy. Through elite interviews and archival research, I trace this convergence at the level of economic policy to prerevolutionary patterns of coalition. From the case of Tunisia, I develop a generalizable theory explaining the conditions under which political party systems in new democracies are likely to spin around issues of economic policy.

The persistence of authoritarian elites in new democracies: 

“Defectors and Dissidents: The Authoritarian Roots of Stability in New Democracies” (working paper available upon request)

In this paper, I examine how the uncertainty of elections in new democracies can produce governments with varying levels of complicity in crimes committed under dictatorship. I develop a theory for why some leaders of new democracies are able to command the state and others are not. I create a typology for ties to the past and use an original dataset that codes elected leaders during democratic transitions between 1990 and 2010 to test my argument.

“Who Votes for the Ancien Regime: Explaining Support for Authoritarian Successor Parties in New Democracies” (with Milan Svolik, data collected and working paper in progress)

In this project, we use a conjoint experiment embedded in a nationally representative survey conducted immediately after the 2019 elections in Tunisia to understand why some voters support politicians affiliated with the formerly ruling party and to adjudicate between the strength appeal of the appeal of the former regime and that of other candidate qualities.

Measuring and understanding the correlates of corruption:

“Corruption (Mis)Perceptions: Who Overestimates Corruption?” (with Samuel Leone, research in progress)

In this project, we use audit study methods to measure incidence and correlates of collusive and coercive bribery at a public institution in Tunisia. We then plan to conduct a survey of relevant stakeholders to understand how perceptions of corruption track on to its actual incidence.