Bubbico, A., Elkink, A. J., & Okolikj, M. (2017) Quality of government and regional competition: A spatial analysis of subnational regions in the European Union. European Journal of Political Research, 56(4), 887-911.

Abstract: Building on previous work on competition networks and governmental performance among British local governments, this article investigates the diffusion of government quality across subnational regions of Europe through strategic interaction with neighbouring regions or competitor regions more generally. The article demonstrates the presence of spatial interdependence using standard spatial regression models and controlling for common explanations of quality of government. In particular for regions with high levels of autonomy from the national government, there is clear adjustment in government quality to be seen in response to disparities with competitor regions. The article further investigates the intensity of this geographical effect separately in the north and south of Europe in order to estimate the potential for virtuous or vicious cycles of good governance in the two regions, respectively. It is found that while regions in the north develop relatively independently of each other but respond to competitive pressure across Europe, in the south regions demonstrate a higher level of local interdependence, increasing the possibility of virtuous cycles – but also of vicious ones.

Link for the paper here.

Quinlan, S., & Okolikj, M. (2017) The Decline of a Dominant Political Monolith: Understanding Fianna Fáil’s vote 1987-2016. Irish Political Studies, 32(1), 164-190.

Abstract: Our study explores the declining vote of Fianna Fáil, Ireland’s dominant party using a unique fusion of data from the 1989-1999 European Election Studies and the 2002-2016 Irish National Election Studies. We show the weakening of Fianna Fáil’s dominant position is due to electoral change: shifting voter identities and the growing importance of economic evaluations in deciding the vote, which became prominent in the 2000s. Today, there are fewer partisans in general and this has impacted the party, especially since the Global Financial Crises (GFC), when the proportion of Fianna Fáil identifiers dropped substantially. Meanwhile, it relies on the votes of the older generation, a declining slice of the electorate. Further, more highly educated voters have become less likely to vote for the party in the 2000s, meaning Fianna Fáil is drawing significantly less support from a growing segment of the electorate. Finally, the Fianna Fáil vote in the 2000s has been shaped by voters’ economic perceptions, whereas these mattered little before this. Although this benefitted it in 2002 and 2007, it cost the party significant support in 2011. Our findings have implications for why dominant parties are declining and for our understanding of the Irish party system.

Link for the paper here.

This paper was also published as a book chapter in “One Party Dominance: Fianna Fáil and Irish Politics 1926 – 2016”, edited by Sean McGraw and Eoin O’Malley, Routledge press. Review of this book chapter and the book in Irish Independent.

Link for the book here.

Okolikj, M., & Quinlan, S. (2016). Context matters: Economic voting in the 2009 and 2014 European Parliament Elections. Politics and Governance, 4(1), 145-166.

Abstract: Using the 2009 and 2014 European Election Studies (EES), we explore the effect of the economy on the vote in the 2009 and 2014 European Parliament (EP) elections. The paper demonstrates that the economy did influence voters in both contests. However, its impact was heterogeneous across the two elections and between countries. While assessments of the economy directly motivated voters in 2009 by 2014 economic appraisals were conditioned by how much responsibility voters felt the national government had for the state of the economy, implying a shift in calculus between the two elections. The analysis suggests that voters in 2009 were simply reacting to the economic tsunami that was the Global Financial Crisis, with motivations primarily driven by the unfavourable economic conditions countries faced. But in 2014, evaluations were conditioned by judgements about responsibility for the economy, suggesting a more conscious holding to account of the government. Our paper also reveals cross-country differences in the influence of the economy on vote. Attribution of responsibility and economic evaluations had a more potent impact on support for the government in bailout countries compared to non-bailout countries in 2014. Our findings demonstrate the importance of economy on vote in EP elections but also highlight how its impact on vote can vary based on context.

Full article here.