New Publication in Politics: Who wants COVID-19 vaccination to be compulsory? The impact of party cues, left-right ideology, and populism

The Paper „Who wants COVID-19 vaccination to be compulsory? The impact of party cues, left-right ideology, and populism“ is now online first (open access) in the journal Politics. The paper can be accessed from here:

Vaccine hesitancy is one of the major obstacles for successfully combating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve a sufficiently high vaccination rate, calls for compulsory vaccinations have been discussed controversially. This study analyses what drives citizens’ attitudes towards compulsory vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we are interested in the impact of party- and expert cues on public attitudes. We further expect populist attitudes to be an important indicator of the rejection of compulsory vaccination due to their scepticism towards science. To test these expectations, we rely on a cueing experiment conducted on a sample of 2265 German citizens. We test for the effects of in-party and out-party cues as well as public health expert cues. We find evidence for in-party cues, meaning that respondents adjust their position on this issue in the direction of their most preferred party. Similar results can be found for public health expert cues. However, there is no evidence for out-party cues. Further analyses reveal that support for compulsory vaccinations is not affected by left-right placement directly. Instead, only the combination of right-wing attitudes and populism negatively affects support for compulsory vaccination.

New Publication in Policy Sciences on Public Preferences regarding COVID-19 Vaccine Alliances [open access]

The paper „Vaccine Alliance Building Blocks: A Conjoint Experiment on Popular Support for International COVID-19 Cooperation Formats“ has been accepted for publication at Policy Sciences. The paper is joint work with Pieter Vanhuysse (Southern Denmark University) and Markus Tepe (University of Oldenburg). The paper is published as open access and you can download it from here. This is the abstract:

The design principles of institutions that visibly and significantly affect citizens’ lives are
likely to be politically salient. Popular support for these principles is in turn crucial for
institutional viability and effectiveness. Transboundary pandemics are a case in point.
Understanding citizens’ preferences regarding the design of international alliances set
up to mass-produce and distribute vaccines is likely to determine citizens’ subsequent
cooperation with vaccination campaigns. This study explores Germans’ preferences for
international COVID-19 vaccine alliance design principles. We conducted a conjoint
experiment at a recurring cognitive moment in many pandemics’ cycles, between the
initial outbreak and a more devastating but still-unknown second wave, when infection
rates were very low, yet no policy solutions had been developed. We analyzed
preferences regarding four building blocks: (1) alliance composition (size; EUcentrism),
(2) alliance distribution rules (joining cost; vaccine allocation), (3) vaccine
nationalism (cost per German household; coverage in Germany) and (4) vaccine
producer confidence (origin; type). Distribution rules, political ideology and personal
perceptions of pandemic threat matter little. But a larger alliance size and dominant
EU-country composition increase alliance support. And vaccine nationalism is key:
support increases with both lower costs and larger coverage for own-nation citizens.
Moreover, support goes down for Chinese and American producers and increases for
Swiss and especially own-nation producers. In sum, a realist and technocratic outlook
is warranted at the cognitive stage in pandemic cycles when no solutions have been
found, yet the worst already seems to be over, as national self-interest reigns supreme
in popular attitudes.

New Publication in Electoral Studies on the Incumbency Advantage in PR Systems at the Local and National Level

Together with Stefan Müller (University College Dublin) I compare the strength of the incumbency advantage in local and national elections in PR systems by relying on the case of Ireland and by making use of the Regression Discontinutiy Design. We find evidence for an incumbency advantage in local elections which is just as strong as in national elections. These findings are interesting because previous research has described local elections under PR as a least-likely case for incumbency effects. The paper is forthcoming in Electoral Studies.

Here is the abstract:

Do candidates in local elections in a system using proportional representation benefit from an incumbency advantage? And which factors moderate the strength of this incumbency bonus? Analyzing seven decades of Irish local elections (1942–2019) conducted under proportional representation through the single transferable vote, we reassess and extend the mixed evidence on the incumbency advantage under proportional representation and in lower-order elections. By applying the Regression Discontinuity Design, we find that the incumbency advantage is at least as strong in Irish local as in general elections, which are conducted under the identical electoral system. In addition, we show that marginally elected candidates in local elections have much higher reelection probabilities when they do not face a high-quality candidate in their local electoral area after getting elected. The results point the importance of name recognition as a major driver of the incumbency advantage.

Michael Jankowski and Stefan Müller. 2021. The Incumbency Advantage in Second-Order PR Elections: Evidence from the Irish Context, 1942–2019. Electoral Studies (online first). DOI:

New Publication in Acta Politica on Ballot Position Effects and Postal Voting [open access]

Together with Torren Frank (University of Oldenburg) I published a paper in Acta Politica on the question of whether ballot position effects in open-list PR systems are weaker among postal voters. To address this question, we compare vote patterns in open-list PR elections of Hamburg between postal voters and election day voters. We find that the candidate on the first ballot position performs worse among postal voters compared to election day voters. The paper is published open access!

Here is the abstract:

Various studies demonstrate that candidates at the top of the party list have a strong advantage in preferential voting systems, particularly under open-list PR. Such ballot position effects can be explained by voters’ tendency to rely on easily available information shortcuts when selecting a candidate. In this paper, we argue that the strength of ballot position effects depends on the context of how voters cast their vote. Specifically, we argue that postal voters are less likely to rely on the ballot position cue compared to voters who vote on election day for two reasons. First, postal voters might be more politically interested. Second, postal voters have more time to assess additional information about the candidates. The hypothesis is tested by analyzing newly collected data from two open-list PR elections in the German federal state of Hamburg. The results confirm the theoretical expectations: Ballot position effects are substantively weaker among postal voters. Additional analyses suggest that differences in the political interest between postal voters and election day voters are unlikely to fully explain these results. These findings advance our understanding of ballot position effects and voters’ use of information shortcuts more generally.

Jankowski, Michael and Torren Frank. 2021. Ballot position effects in open-list PR systems: the moderating impact of postal voting. Acta Politica, (online first)