Post-doc and PhD positions available

There is one Postdoctoral Researcher position [Akademische/-r Rat/Rätin auf Zeit] (100%, A13) and one PhD Research Assistant position [Wissenschaftliche/-r Mitarbeiter/-in] (66%, TV-L 13) available from October 1st, 2017 or later. Please check out the job advertisments for

If you have further questions about the positions or the salary please do not hesitate to contact me by email c.hoennige [at] While the salary varies depending on maritial status, the number of children and health insurance, a rough estimation is 46.000€ for the postdoctoral and 29.000€ for the PhD position as gross annual income.

Application deadline is August 31st, 2017.

New article in EJPR on courts as veto players

Sylvain Brouard and Christoph Hönnige (2017): Constitutional courts as veto players: Lessons from the United States, France and Germany, European Journal of Political Research 56 (3), 529-552

The number of constitutional courts and supreme courts with constitutional review rights has strongly increased with the third wave of democratisation across the world as an important element of the new constitutionalism. These courts play an important role in day-to-day politics as they can nullify acts of parliament and thus prevent or reverse a change in the status quo. In macro-concepts of comparative politics, their role is unclear. Either they are integrated as counter-majoritarian institutional features of a political system or they are entirely ignored: some authors do not discuss their potential impact at all, while others dismiss them because they believe their preferences as veto players are entirely absorbed by other actors in the political system. However, we know little about the conditions and variables that determine them as being counter-majoritarian or veto players. This article employs the concept of Tsebelis’ veto player theory to analyse the question. It focuses on the spatial configuration of veto players in the legislative process and then adds the court as an additional player to find out if it is absorbed in the pareto-efficient set of the existing players or not. A court which is absorbed by other veto players should not in theory veto new legislation. It is argued in this article that courts are conditional veto players. Their veto is dependent on three variables: the ideological composition of the court; the pattern of government control; and the legislative procedures. To empirically support the analysis, data from the United States, France and Germany from 1974 to 2009 is used. This case selection increases variance with regard to system types and court types. The main finding is that courts are not always absorbed as veto players: during the period of analysis, absorption varies between 11 and 71 per cent in the three systems. Furthermore, the pattern of absorption is specific in each country due to government control, court majority and legislative procedure. Therefore, it can be concluded that they are conditional veto players. The findings have at least two implications. First, constitutional courts and supreme courts with judicial review rights should be systematically included in veto player analysis of political systems and not left aside. Any concept ignoring such courts may lead to invalid results, and any concept that counts such courts merely as an institutional feature may lead to distorted results that over- or under-estimate their impact. Second, the findings also have implications for the study of judicial politics. The main bulk of literature in this area is concerned with auto-limitation, the so-called ‘self-restraint’ of the government to avoid defeat at the court. This auto-limitation, however, should only occur if a court is not absorbed. However, vetoes observed when the court is absorbed might be explained by strategic behaviour among judges engaging in selective defection.

Steven Webster as Guest Lecturer at LUH

We welcome Stewebster-picven W. Webester who is a graduate student from Emory College of Arts and Science. He studies the ways in which anger and other emotions shape patterns of political behavior and public opinion. His work has been published in Electoral Studies, American Politics Research, and Social Science Quarterly.

You can find more information about Steven here.

He is teaching a class in “American Politics, The Presidency, and Institutions” during May 2017.



Reza Fathurrahman defended PhD

Reza Fathurrahman successfully defended his PhD on “The Progress of Indonesian Administrative Reform. Roles of Administrative Culture, Readiness for Change and Citizens Trust in Government” in March. He will return to Indonesia to start a job as lecturer and researcher at the Department for Social Sciences at the University of Indonesia.

ECPR Standing Group on Law and Courts

After founding it in 2009 together with Sylvain Brouard and co-directing it for seven years, the chairmanship for the ECPR standing group on Law and Courts has been moved in September 2016 to Chris Hanretty (Royal Holloway). A link to the standing group can be found here on the ECPR website and here on the group website.

New Paper in JEPP on Consultative Committees

Christoph Hönnige and Diana Panke (2016): Is anybody listening? The Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee and their quest for awareness, Journal of European Public Policy 23 (4)

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) are two consultative bodies in the European legislative arena. While they have privileged access to the European Parliament (EP) and the Council of Ministers through submitting opinions on draft European Union (EU) legislation, EU legislators do not always read the opinions and are consequently often unaware of what the CoR and the EESC propose. This article examines how and under which conditions consultative committees can secure the awareness of legislative bodies. Based on two case studies focusing on the European Citizens Initiative and the liberalization of the postal market, we find that the level of awareness of the work of the two committees is overall rather limited. However, awareness increases if the committees proactively promote their positions through extracurricular activities (e.g., seminars, participation in hearings, circulation of additional information) from early on, rather than simply formally submitting their opinions to the EP and the Council.