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Probationary Doctoral Candidates Presentations, Comparative Politics Track

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

The Department of Political Science invites you to the project presentations by Probationary Doctoral Candidates, Comparative Politics Track


Shirin Tumenbaeva, Doctoral candidate in Political Science—Comparative Politics Track

The paradox of voting: why to vote at all in unstable democracies? 

Abstract: In presumably all democratic settings, free and fair elections are a necessity and participants usually accept the results and adhere to the decision. However, elections do not always run smoothly. The series of colored revolutions were led by dissatisfaction and disagreement with the results and initiated the transition to democracy. These countries have been labeled as turbulent even up to date. In such settings where the quality/integrity of elections is questionable how does the calculation for the voter occur? Given such instabilities, why do people vote at all? In the rational choice models, the outcomes of the elections are two: the candidate you voted for wins or loses. In unstable democracies, the third option is always present - rejection of the results by one of the sides and protests that undermine the stability of the political regime. Based on the cases of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine I intend to study the drivers for voting in such context.




Cezar Braga, Doctoral candidate in Political Science, Comparative Politics Track

Is Pentecostal Populism inevitable? Evangelical Christianity and democracy in 21st century Latin America 

Abstract: The last few decades have witnessed a tectonic demographic shift in historically Catholic-dominated Latin America, as the number of (mostly Pentecostal) Evangelical Christians multiplied, to the point of surpassing that of Catholics in some countries. In several of the region’s democracies, however, Evangelical Christianity has not been mobilized as a political identity, this demographic growth notwithstanding. In democratic nations where such identity has been activated, Evangelical Christianity has often been politically associated with populism, as demonstrated by the way leaders such as Bolsonaro and Bukele marshal Evangelical support using populist rhetoric. This research aims to explore the interplay between Populism and Pentecostal Evangelical Christianity as a political identity in 21st century Latin America. Specifically, it aims to use qualitative investigation, supported by quantitative evidence, in both the cross- and within-case (Brazil) levels to answer: 1) what conditions lead to the activation of the Pentecostal Evangelical political identity in Latin America? 2) How much is the Pentecostal Evangelical Christian political identity associated with populism in Latin America? 3) Is association with populism inevitable for Evangelical Christianity once it is activated as a political identity? If not, what other possible paths are there? 4) How does the experience of Evangelical Christianity as a political identity in Latin America compare to that of democratic countries and regions with a significant and/or growing presence of Evangelical Christians, such as the United States, Sub-Saharan Africa and East/Southeast Asia?


Bence Hamrak, Doctoral candidate in Political Science, Comparative Politics Track

Policy Accountability in Times of Partisan Animosity 



Abstract: Partisanship is motivated by group identities and issue opinions. Cumulative research has shown that even though partisans may be biased to make decisions consistent with their affect, in the case when they are presented with clear trade-offs, such incongruent in-party policy positions, these expressive motivations are reduced. Elite polarization exactly presents such trade-off: the extremization of in-party elites may increase the likelihood of policy accountability. However, partisan loyalty is on record high in many countries. What does explain this contradiction? Many assume that identities simply took over partisan motivations. Based on novel theories of affective polarization, I take a different position: In-party, incumbent elites may escape policy accountability when they take incongruent positions since in-party voters have stronger motivation to avoid an out-party alternative than to be responsive to their own policy opinions. The out-party (threat) perception could be biased by identity and motivated reasoning on the other hand, in contrast with in-party evaluations. These out-party perceptions are crucial to understand partisanship, and thereof, accountability today. As a first, empirical contribution, I identify the role of out-party affect and (perceived distance) on policy accountability through novel experiments. Second, I argue that out-party animosity exposes the limits of the current models of electoral accountability which pay small/no attention on the external costs of accountability. As a theoretical contribution, I develop a formal model which incorporates these calculations.