Department of Political Science


2015. “How Electoral Incentives Shape Individual Parliament Members’ Rights”, Israel Science Foundation, 351,000 NIS (3*117,000 NIS).

Parliamentary procedures are the ‘modus operandi’ of the legislature. They define its structure, specify the way it works and delineate parliament members’ rights. Parliamentary procedures also affect legislators’ relative strength and governments’ ability to control the legislature and the legislative process. The proposed study examines parliament members’ rights and presents a theory of cameral procedure change that results from the electoral environment. I hypothesize that governments’ incentives to curtail legislators’ rights are affected by the legislators’ electoral motivations to emphasize their individualistic behavior: when legislators are motivated to emphasize individualistic behavior and start behaving in an undisciplined manner, governments are incentivized to curtail cameral procedures. Yet, I argue that an individualistic electoral environment does not necessarily lead to restrictive cameral rules. Even if the government is incentivized to limit MPs’ rights, it is not always capable of doing so. Ultimately, the same MPs who are elected under individualistic electoral rules need to approve those restrictive procedural changes. Hence, I offer several hypotheses about factors affecting governments’ ability to enact restrictive cameral procures, such as the government’s majority size and the levels of public trust the parliament enjoys.

The proposed study seeks to advance several goals: First, I aim to descriptively examine the often-neglected institution of cameral procedures. I will collect and analyze a large data set on cameral  procedures in both parliamentary and presidential systems. My application of a unified classification scheme of MPs’ rights to this data set will enable scholars in the future to research myriad related topics, such as the effect of changes in MPs’ rights on MPs’ behavior (i.e., private member bill initiation and behaviors on the floor, including question asking and voting).

The second goal is to examine whether governments strategically manipulate cameral procedures so as to curtail MPs’ rights when the electoral environment incentivizes MPs to behave in an  individualistic manner. The study will provide new insights into the factors that affect governments’ incentives and ability to change cameral procedures to restrict legislators’ rights—and therefore behavior. This goal will be achieved using both a case-study analysis of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) and a broad cross-national analysis based on data gathered from democratic parliaments worldwide, combining macro and case-specific scrutiny.

The proposed research will advance our theoretical and empirical knowledge about intra-cameral procedures and how they shape and define MPs’ rights. Not only will I collect an invaluable data
set on cameral procedures in democratic countries, but also I will illuminate the factors that affect their manipulation. By systematically collecting, classifying, and examining parliamentary cameral procedures and by studying whether cameral procedures are used to curtail MPs’ incentives to behave individualistically, I will bridge a data gap in the subfield of legislative studies, add to our understanding of legislators and their behavior, and strengthen our knowledge of democratic institutions.


2011. “United we Stand, Divided we Fall: How the Web of Political Institutions Influences Legislators’ Behaviour”, Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant, 100,000 euro.

In this proposal I seek to examine what causes politicians to vote against their parties’ wishes, what causes parties to exhibit less or greater discipline and how do institutions influence the way legislatures, parties and parliament members behave? Whereas scholars paid great attentions to the effect electoral systems have on legislators’ behavior, less attention has been devoted to the separate effect of intra-party candidate selection processes and legislative rules. This is partially because scholars tend to amalgamate electoral systems and selection processes. To the degree to which scholars do differentiate elections from elections, they often regard the influence of each institution separately, or in an additive manner, failing to consider the conditional influence the web of institutions bare for legislators’ behavior.

In this grant, I wish to undertake 2 related tasks: first of all, I want to innovatively examine how the combination of political institutions, and specifically electoral systems, intra-party candidate selection processes and their interaction with one another influence the way legislators’ behave and the degree to which parties act in unison. The second objective of this research was to add to our knowledge about the effect of institutional arrangements on parties and parliament members by shedding light on an often neglected institution: parliamentary cameral procedures.

The overall goals for the project include the collection of original data on parliamentary cameral procedures; the creation of a classification scheme to analyze parliamentary cameral procedures in a comparative way; and the use of a combination of cutting edge methodological tools to empirically test the theory concerning the interactive effect of institutions on legislators’ behavior. During the 4 year project I have created a classification scheme, which consists of 59 questions that enables cross-national classification of parliaments’ standing orders. I have also collected and analyzed cameral procedures for 15 democratic countries, while within each country I collected procedures for at least three different periods (and for most countries much more than that, for example we have documented every procedural amendment in the Israeli Knesset form 1967 till 2007); Using cutting edge methodology and original data-sets I was able to published the results in numerous articles in leading peer reviewed journals.


2013. “The Evolution of Parliamentarism and its Political Consequences”, partner in the grant from the Research Council of Norway, 7.7 Million NOK (~1.3 Million $). Additional researchers: Rasch, Bjorn Erik; Cheibub , Jose Antoni; Bjorn, Hoyland; Rickard, Stephanie; Martin, Shane; Ajenjo , Natalia and Eivind, Smith.

The number of democracies in the world today is higher than in any other time. The majority of these democracies adopt a parliamentary constitution, that is, one that is based on assembly confidence. Assembly confidence regimes are those in which governments, in order to come to and stay in power, must be at least tolerated by a legislative majority. They can be divided into cases of negative and positive parliamentarism. In stark contrast with scholarship on varieties of presidentialism, the research literature on the evolution and consequences of the two forms of parliamentarism is surprisingly sparse and rudimentary.

With this in mind, our goal is to develop fully the distinction between negative and positive parliamentarism and clarify its institutional implications; to trace the origins of the institutions associated with negative and positive parliamentarism; and to study their consequences for the way parliamentary governments operate in an ever more demanding, complex, and global policy environment. The project will provide the first truly intertemporal comparative study of the design and consequences of varieties of parliamentarism.

The notion of positive and negative parliamentarism has been invoked primarily to account for differences in the government formation process and the type of government (minority or majority) that results from it. We reject the simplicity of this usage, instead arguing that the distinction between positive and negative parliamentarism is systemic and matters not only for the process of government formation and termination, but also for several important aspects of the operation of the government during its existence.

Schematically, we propose that there are two sets of instruments of positive parliamentarism: those that refer to the existence of the government, and those that pertain to the government’s ability to control parliament (agenda setting powers), which affect its ability to pass legislation and govern. The first set of instruments includes formation rules (investiture) and non-confidence procedures. The second set of instruments includes the confidence vote, decree powers, parliamentary dissolution and instruments, such as the “guillotine” and the block vote, which place limits on the parliament’s ability to amend bills and allow the government to “package” a bill for a legislative floor vote in the way it sees fit. All these institutions are considered to matter for the type of government that is observed in parliamentary democracies (majority versus minority), for the duration and overall stability of the government, and for the government’s legislative and governing capacity.

Our view of positive parliamentarism differs with the usage we find in the literature, in that we also consider instruments that are relevant for the government’s governing capacity once the government is formed. In this sense, our thinking about parliamentary systems rejects the implicit assumption of the vast majority of studies of government formation and termination in these systems, according to which the way the government functions during its time in office is mostly determined by the way it is formed.

The two sets of institutions of positive parliamentarism – those related to government formation and those related to the government’s agenda setting powers – yield four theoretical possibilities for the characterization of existing systems:

  1. Those that have no institutions of positive parliamentarism.
  2. Those that adopt institutions of positive parliamentarism when it comes to government formation and termination, but not when it comes to the government’s agenda setting capacity.
  3. Those that adopt institutions of positive parliamentarism when it comes to the government’s agenda setting capacity, but not when it comes to government formation and termination.
  4. Those that adopt both sets of institutions of positive parliamentarism.

All four options are theoretically possible, but their frequency among historical and existing parliamentary democracies is not known. Thus, it is central to the project to develop theoretically the four types of parliamentary democracies and to document their empirical existence, even before we begin to consider the consequences of such varieties of parliamentarism.


2010. Research Grants for Young Scientists in the Social Sciences, Israel Foundation Trustees, 25,000$ [forbidden from using since I won the Marie Curie].


2009. Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship, Washington University, 2009-2010.


2005-2009. Washington University Graduate Fellowship, 2005-2009.


2006-2008. Washington University Summer Research Grant, 2006-2008.


2003-2005. Prof. David Rohde’s Political Institutions and Public Choice Program.