Department of Political Science

Published Research

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Female Representation: Between Selection Processes and Partisan Quotas,In Gender Gaps in Politics, ed. Michal Shamir, Hanna Herzog and Naomi Chazan, forthcoming

Scholars disagree about the way candidate selection processes affect women’s representation. While some argue that primaries benefit women candidates, other claim the opposite. I test the effect of selection procedures on female representation and find primaries to benefit it. I caution, however, against concluding that democratic selections are beneficial. I argue that party leaders are aware of primaries’ negative effects and they offset them by adopting partisan protective mechanisms. Therefore, controlling for partisan protective mechanisms will unveil the negative effect of primaries on female representation. Using party level data from eight legislative terms of the Israeli Knesset I find support for my hypotheses.

Does intraparty democracy affect levels of trust in parties? The cases of Belgium and Israel, Acta Politica, 53: 167-183.

Previous research has shown a steady decline of citizen’s political trust and growing skepticism towards key institutions of representative democracy. Political parties, which perform the crucial role of linking citizens to the political system, are in the eye of the storm: citizens are generally more distrusting towards parties than other social and political institutions. The relevant literature mentions that parties often implement intraparty democratization to remedy party distrust. This article examines whether these intraparty reforms actually affect levels of trust in political parties. More specifically, the authors analyze the effect of democratic candidate selection processes on party trust among voters. The analysis is based on the cases of Belgium and Israel, where politicians made a strong case for intraparty democracy in recent history. The results indicate that, while inclusive selectorates indeed increase trust levels, decentralization decreases trust towards parties in both countries.

Intra-Party Politics and Public Opinion: How Candidate Selection Processes affect Citizens’ Satisfaction with Democracy, Political Behavior, 38(3): 509-534, with Gert-Jan Put and Gedalya-Lavy Einat. 

While scholarly attention has been devoted to the effect institutions have on citizens’ evaluation of democracy and democratic institutions, relatively little attention has been devoted to the way intraparty candidate selection processes affect citizens’ satisfaction with democracy. In this article we seeks to amend this lacuna and innovatively study how parties shape people’s opinion about democracy. We examine empirically how party level characteristics, specifically the nature of a party’s candidate selection procedure, relate to the level of satisfaction with democracy among citizens. We use an original cross-national dataset with data on the selection procedures of 130 political parties in 28 country-sessions to examine whether citizens that vote for democratically organized parties are more satisfied with the way democracy works in their country. We also examine this relationship more closely in Israel and Belgium, two countries where candidate selection procedures show substantial variation and where politicians have made a strong claim for intraparty democratization. Both the cross-national as well as the country-specific analyses indicate that democratic candidate selection are indeed associated with greater satisfaction with democracy.

While many scholars theorize and provide empirical support for the notion that increase in the scope of the selectorate and especially adopting primaries brings negative consequences for parties themselves, and democracy in general, our analysis discovers one important positive consequence for democratic selection processes: namely they bare positive association to citizens’ overall satisfaction with democracy. Thus, this article’s contribution is twofold: first, we add to the body of literature that study institutional effect on satisfaction with democracy by focusing on candidate selection processes—an institution the literature neglected to study. Second, we add to the literature that studies the consequences and effects of candidate selection processes on political phenomena and behaviors (e.g., on intra-party competition, representation, legislators’ behavior), by originally examining how intra-party candidate selection processes affect citizens’ satisfaction with democracy.

Replication files

The Conditional Effect of Electoral Systems and Intra-Party Candidate Selection Processes on Parties’ Behavior, Legislative Studies Quarterly, 42(1): 63-96.

In this paper I distinguish theoretically and empirically between electoral systems and candidate selections and examine how both institutions affect party unity levels. Stemming from my original critique against the common amalgamation between electoral systems and intra-party candidate selection processes and the differing levels at which elections and selection operate, I argue that we should differentiate elections from selections and allow for the theoretical and empirical possibility that elections and selection might jointly produce conflicting incentives for parties’ unity levels. I specifically argue that the influence of selection processes on parties’ behavior is conditional on electoral system and vice versa. This is because both, electoral systems and candidate selection processes have the theoretical separate ability to induce a unified collective voting record.Thus, I innovatively contend that if the electoral system incentivizes legislators to toe their party’s line, the effect of the candidate selection procedure, and especially democratized processes, on the party’s behavior will be muted. By the same token, if the manner by which legislators are selected guarantees they maintain a unified voting record, then the effect of electoral systems on parties’ unity levels would be minimal. On the other hands, party leaders may use restrictive selection processes to attenuate the effect of electoral systems that encourage legislators to break the party line, and ensure—even under permissive electoral systems—a unified voting record. Hence, restrictive candidate selection processes may overcome the personal vote seeking incentives produced by an electoral system.

Measuring parties’ unity using Rice and Weighted Rice scores, and applying hierarchical models to a new data-set I collected of 249 parties in 24 countries, I find support for the claim that the influence of selection processes on behavior is greater under electoral systems that encourage personal vote seeking incentives than under electoral systems that encourage party-centeredness. This article add to our scholarly debate about whether democratizing candidate selection procedures is beneficial or not. Whereas some say democratizing selection procedures have positive effects (e.g., improves the party’s image as a democratic entity, increases its legitimacy and helps it attract more members), others argue that democratized selections have negative consequences (e.g., weaken party leaders’ ability to maintain a unified party record). The results presented in this article demonstrate that in countries with a candidate-centered electoral system that encourage legislators to break the party’s line, party leaders are better off maintaining restrictive candidate selection processes, since sustaining the control over candidate selections enables party leaders to maintain a unified party record even under permissive electoral systems. On the other hand, party leaders in countries with party-centered electoral systems can afford to democratize selection processes: their party may benefit from the democratization and increased legitimacy, while its voting record will remain nearly unaffected.

On-line supplemental appendix

The Electoral Environment and Legislator Dissent, Comparative Politics, 48(4): 557-578.

I assert that since electoral systems and selection processes are substitutive means for ensuring a parties’ unified voting record the magnitude of the effect of candidate selection processes on legislators’ behavior will depend on the degree to which voters are allowed to disturb the party’s ballot at the general election stage. Since candidate selection procedures may vary within an electoral system, legislators might face contradictory incentives. While the electoral rules may encourage legislators to personalize, selections may incentivize them to behave in a party-centered way. Alternatively, while electoral systems incentivize party centeredness, selection procedures may encourage representatives to emphasize personal reputation. Given the possibility for contradictory incentives, I hypothesize and empirically examine how these contradictory incentives would affect legislators’ tendencies to dissent. I originally argue that the effect of elections and selections on legislators’ tendency to dissent is conditional, and that legislators who face contradictory incentives will tend to maintain voting discipline. On the other hand, when the incentives of elections and selections align, they tend to amplify one another. This is especially true when elections and selections both incentivize personalization. In this paper, I measure legislators’ behavior as the percentage of times a legislator voted against his party majority and I test and find support for the conditional hypothesis using an original individual-level dataset with 6,776 legislators from 180 parties in 30 country-sessions.

This paper adds to our theoretical and empirical understanding of legislators’ behavior in multiple ways: to begin with, it challenges the amalgamation between elections and selections, which is prevalent in the current literature, and hypothesizes about their combined conditional effect. As such, the paper studies the way political institutions interact in influencing elites’ behavior, and more realistically depict the possibility that legislators are facing conflicting incentives produced by differing and separate political institutions. Second, while most research to date used a party-level measure of behavior, (e.g., Rice or weighted Rice scores ), and those few that used individual level measurement confined the scope of research to one or only a few countries, in this paper I present an individual level, cross-national analysis of institutional effects on legislators’ behavior. To this end, I collected an original dataset containing individual level voting data for more than 6,700 legislators from 30 country sessions.

On-line supplemental appendix

Institutional reforms and their effect on legislators’ behavior: The Israeli experience, 1992–2011, Party Politics, 23(3): 297-308.

I use the Israeli political arena to test the way electoral systems and intra-party candidate selection procedures influence the degree to which parties act in unison. I show, that while the theoretical literature on the effect of electoral systems and the impact of candidate selection processes on parties’ unity level is quite clear, the empirical evidence is mixed. To solve this empirical puzzle I theorize about the interactive effects of elections and selections on parties’ behavior. I argue that the effect of candidate selections depends on the electoral environment within which they operateץ Specifically, in an electoral environment that creates incentives for candidate-centeredness, the less restrictive the selection method a party uses, the less unified its record; whereas in an electoral environment that emphasizes party-centeredness, the effect of selections on unity is more muted.

I take advantage of the electoral reform Israel experimented with (the direct elections to the Prime Minister) and the divergent selection mechanisms that Israeli parties used during the last three decades to gain leverage provide support for the conditional effect of electoral systems and selection procedures on party behavior, measures with Rice Scores. The results of this article innovatively demonstrate that restrictiveness of either elections or selections is sufficient to induce unified party record, whereas for the individualization effect of permissive institutions to manifest itself, the incentives from both institutions—electoral systems and candidate selection processes—must align.

Electoral Incentives and Individual Parliament Members’ Rights, West European Politics, 38(5), pp. 1106-1127.

Cameral procedures define the modus operandi of a parliament. While the vast majority of the literature study the effect cameral procedures have on executive-legislative relationships, I originally focus scholarly attention on an additional dimension which is directly affected by legislative procedures: the individual MP vis-à-vis the leadership dimension. I, thus, broaden the scope of institutional structures that affect legislative behavior, by focusing attention on an often neglected institution in the comparative literature: intra-cameral procedures. In addition to arguing that legislative procedures affect politicians’ rights and the balance of power between the individual MP vis-à-vis the leadership, I also claim that cameral procedures are not a static institution. Therefore, I innovatively, present a theory of cameral procedure amendments that result from the external electoral-selectoral environment. I argue that governments’ incentives to restrict Parliament Members’ (MPs‘) rights are affected by MPs‘ (s)electoral motivation to emphasize individualistic behavior at the expense of their party’s reputation, hence overusing (arguably abusing) their individual rights. Governments and the Heads of the Executive in particular will react to these electoral incentives by restricting and limiting MPs’ rights in the cameral procedures.

In the article I specifically hypothesize that when the electoral environment motivates legislators to act individualistically governments are incentivised to restrict cameral procedures to curtail legislators’ behaviour. I further contend that materialising such incentives depends on the government’s ability to pass restrictive procedural changes. To test the theory, four decades (1967–2007) of amendments to the Israeli Knesset’s rules of procedure were examined and support provided for co-variation of changes to the (s)electoral environment (emphasizing individualistic behavior) and restrictiveness of the Knesset’s procedures. The analysis then details the factors that enabled Israeli governments to pass such restrictive measures. The analysis reveals that governments in Israel seem to use the rules of procedure strategically in their attempt to improve their control and curtail legislators’ behaviour. As such, legislative rules are tools used by political leaders and the executive to attenuate hypothesized personalized incentives produced by external institutions such as electoral systems and candidate selection processes.

On-line supplemental appendix

No News is News: Non-Ignorable Non-Response in Roll-Call Data Analysis, American Journal of Political Science 59(2), pp. 511-528, with Rosas, Guillermo and Haptonstahl, Steve.

Roll-call votes are widely employed to infer the ideological proclivities of legislators. However, many roll-call matrices are characterized by high levels of nonresponse. Under many theoretical circumstances and political contexts, nonresponse cannot be assumed to be ignorable. Put it differently legislators “register” non-response (either by actively abstaining or by actively absenting themselves from the vote) strategically. In this innovative paper we examine the consequences of violating the ignorability assumption that underlies current prevalent methods of roll-call analysis. We first motivate our analysis by documenting the prevalence of item nonresponse in legislatures around the world. Second, we originally try to understand and document the severity of assuming strategic roll-call non-responses are ignorable. We then present a basic estimation framework to model nonresponse and vote choice concurrently and we build a model that captures the logic of competing principals that underlies accounts of nonresponse in many legislatures. We show that IRT models that assume random ignorable missingness generate biased inferences about ideal points compared to a model that incorporates assumptions from the competing principals logic. The MCMC simulations further show that this bias increases substantially with the rate of nonresponse. Lastly, we revisit two debates in international relations and American politics concerning abstentions in the United Nations General Assembly during the height of the Cold War, and the question of the “most liberal senator” that has come up in recent U.S. presidential elections. Indeed we show that modeling the process that ostensibly drives abstentions allows us to recover more consensual estimates of the distances that existed between the Soviet Union and some of its satellites and dispels the image of presidential hopefuls in the United States as ideological extremists.

The simulations as well as real world data show that modeling presumed patterns of nonignorable nonresponse can yield important inferential payoffs over current models that assume random missingness. We, therefore, encourage scholars to think actively and carefully about potential processes that might generate strategic absences and abstentions in the legislatures they study. Before reaching conclusions about the ideological profiles of legislators, it is important to gauge the sensitivity of different legislator’s ideal points to nonignorable abstention-generating mechanisms deemed relevant in the legislature at hand.

On-line supplemental appendix and replication files.

What Affect Candidate Selection Processes? A Cross-National Examination, Party Politics, Party Politics, 20(4), pp. 533-546.

This article seeks to examine empirically what factors account for variation in candidate selection processes. After identifying the key assertions developed in the literature, I use an original cross-national dataset with data on the selection procedures of 512 parties in 46 countries (the largest comparative dataset to the best of my knowledge) to examine whether a party’s ideology, size, regime type, territorial organization and region affect the way parties select their legislative candidates.

In the article I pay special and close attention to the hypothesized relationships between electoral systems and selection processes. This is because most of the literature on the effects of institutions on legislators’ behavior often amalgamated elections and selections. I argued that underlying this amalgamation is an assumption that electoral systems determine candidate selection processes. Only to the degree to which electoral systems determine parties’ selection processes can scholars amalgamate elections and selections into a single (and the same) institution, and study its effect on behavior. The results from the analysis empirically challenge the literature’s amalgamation.

The article’s contribution to the study of candidate selection processes and legislators behavior is twofold. On the one hand, this is the largest cross-national analysis (to the best of my knowledge) of candidate selection processes’ determinants, in which the appropriate unity of analysis is used: a party prior to a given election. On the other hand, the results from the paper laid the ground for the my argument that literature should differentiate elections from selections and allow for the theoretical and empirical possibility that elections and selection might produce combined conflicting incentives for parties’ and legislators’ behavior.


A Cross-National Analysis of Party Switching, Legislative Studies Quarterly, 38(1), pp. 111-141, with O’Brien, Diana.

Though interparty movement has been documented in legislatures across a number of countries, and although party switching can significantly influence democratic representation and governance, there has been comparatively little systematic cross-national research on party switching. Thus, the prevalence of switching is unknown and the extent to which party- and system-level variation influences this behavior remains unclear. To address this lacuna, we have conducted the most comprehensive study of intra session party switching that has ever been undertaken. Using our original dataset, we begin by examining the prevalence of party switching across 239 party-level observations in 20 democratic regimes. To theoretically explain variation in the presence and prevalence of party switching both across and within legislatures, we draw on the theoretical literature on intraparty switching and legislators’ behavior. We specifically look at the relationship between legislators’ motivations, institutional determinants and party switching.

This article makes two major contributions to the study of interparty movement. First, using the largest and most comprehensive cross-national dataset on party-level switching ever constructed, we illustrate that contrary to popularly held assumptions, party switching occurs much more frequently than previously asserted. Of the 239 parties included in the dataset, almost one-third (78) exhibited some switching. This is an important finding in and of itself, as it demonstrates that defection is not a rare phenomenon, but instead a serious issue facing parties in democratic states. This in turn calls for scholars of legislative politics to dedicate greater attention to the study of interparty movement. In addition to showing the prevalence of party switching, we offer new insights into the determinants of this behavior. The results from our varying-intercept random effects models demonstrate that motivational factors influence interparty movement, while the direct effect of institutional arrangements is minimal. We suggest that future research will have to amend our treatment of the motivational and institutional treatments as two distinct theoretical approaches and treat motivations and institutions as endogenous to one another.

Replication files

Candidate Selection Procedures, Seniority, and Vote-Seeking Behavior: Lessons from the Israeli Experience, Comparative Political Studies, 42(7), pp. 945-970.

It has been argued that inclusive and decentralized selection procedures create greater incentives for parliamentarians to enhance their personal reputations. However, while the observable implications of this theory are at the level of individual members, the empirical data often brought to bear on this question to date have been collected at an aggregate level-– the partisan bloc or legislative term. Despite some previously positive aggregate results I find no discernible support for the connection between candidate-selection procedures and vote-seeking behavior in Israel at the individual parliamentarian level. I suggest an alternative theory—based on the stage of the legislative career—that explains both individual-level behavior and the aggregate-level trend.


Models of Non-Response in Legislative Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly, 33(4), pp. 573-601. With Guillermo Rosas.

Tools dedicated to inferring the ideological leanings of legislators from observed votes–techniques such as Nominate (Poole and Rosenthal 1997) or the item-response theory model of Clinton, Jackman and Rivers (2004)–are based on the assumption that the political process that generates abstentions is ignorable, an assumption that is not always easy to justify. We extend the item-response theory model to analyze abstention and voting processes simultaneously in situations where abstentions are suspected to be non-random. We apply this expanded model to two assemblies where the existing literature gives us reasons to expect non-random abstentions, and suggest how our extensions yield nuanced analyses of legislative politics. We also acknowledge limits to our ability to decide on the adequacy of alternative assumptions about abstentions, since these are not readily verifiable.


Magnitude and Vote Seeking, Electoral Studies, 26(4), pp. 727-734. with Brian Crisp and Kathryn Jensen.

In one of the most frequently cited articles published in Electoral Studies, Carey and Shugart [Cary, J.M.Shugart, M.S. 1995. Incentives to cultivate a personal vote: a rank ordering of electoral formulas. Electoral Studies 14(4), 417-439] hypothesized that the number of copartisans faced relative to seats available had a differential effect on the incentive to cultivate a personal vote depending on whether electoral rules allowed for intra-party competition. Across a wide array of electoral systems, we show that the number of candidates fielded per party varies within districts and that the variation is not systematically related to the total number of seats available. Thus, the widespread use of magnitude as a proxy for ‘‘copartisan crowdedness’’ is systematically inaccurate.We argue that the observed number of copartisans faced makes clear that a ratio to capture vote seeking incentives needs a party-in-adistrict denominator to accompany the party-in-a-district numerator. That denominator is the expected number of seats to be won by each party in question.

Non-ingnorable Abstentions in Mexico’s Instituto Federal Electoral, The Political Economy of Democracy, pp. 245-261, With Guillermo Rosas.

The purpose of this paper is to explore empirically some of the effects of assuming different abstention-generating mechanisms on the estimation of ideal points. For this purpose, we inspect a small committee, the Council-General of the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, by its Spanish acronym). Though we start from common wisdom propositions about the putative ideological profiles of IFE Councilors, we do not purport to provide a theoretically-nuanced approximation to the ideological organization of this Council. Instead, we use the Council’s roll-call record to gauge how inferences about ideology would be affected by different assumptions about Councilors’ motivations to abstain. In this regard, our approach to the politics of IFE is unabashedly empirical, and indeed the choice of this committee as an object of study is driven by various characteristics that we deem desirable in this kind of exploratory analysis: IFE’s Council-General is a committee made up of a handful of with known political sponsors, it decides on extremely important electoral matters, and it produces a relatively high incidence of abstentions.