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Department of Political Science Research Seminar Series, in association with Trinity Research in Social Sciences (TRiSS)

  • Date: Friday 19th January 2018

  • Time: 4pm

  • Venue: Sociology Conference Room, 6th floor, 3 College Green, Trinity College Dublin


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The Department of Political Science is pleased to invite you to the first round of the 2nd year PhD student presentations.

Marco Schito: State Aid Politics in the European Union: Explaining Variation in Aid Disbursement in Western European Countries

Discussant: Silvia Decadri

Government actions aimed at supporting business are called subsidies (in the context of the World Trade Organisation, WTO) or State aid (in the European Union, EU). Governments disburse aid to encourage economic activity in a region, slow the rate of decline of an industry, maintain the incomes of producers, correct market failures, or enhance employment (OECD, 2001). Not all governments, though, support business to the same extent or in the same manner. Why do some Member States grant more State aid than others? Looking at State aid through the lens of distributive policy-making, the projects investigates the politics of State aid, that is, how distributive measures such as State aid come to be. It looks into the attainment of the political preferences of governments, electoral pragmatism, and the dwindling freedom in macroeconomic policy-making that Member States have in face of increased Europeanisation, as suggested by Hofmann (2016). To do so, it builds a model of distributive politics based on the policy-making process developed by Persson and Tabellini (2003). Regression analysis is employed to look at the role that a government's policy preferences, as well as the country's political and electoral institutions, and the influence of the EU all have on aid disbursement. It finds that the policy preferences are conditional on some political institutions of the country, and that different electoral rules give different incentives to pursue distributive measures. It also finds support for the hypothesis that the EU plays a constraining role in distributive politics. The concluding remarks suggest further avenues of research for the project.

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Eleonora La Spada: Explaining Variation in Governments' Response to Dissent: The Effect of Fragmentation of Self-Determination Movements

Discussant: Somya Chhabra

The extensive literature seeking to explain cross-national variation in political repression has provided with many and relevant explanans. Yet, it appears that unexplored dimensions remain. Specifically, the literature has overlooked how variation in governments' response may depend on variation in the internal organization of challenging movements. Focus the attention on self-determination disputes, this project investigates whether variation in regimes' responses to self-determination movements is affected by one particular factor, i.e., the degree of fragmentation of the movements. I argue that higher degrees of fragmentation within self-determination movements provoke incentives for state-repression. The theoretical argument I propose suggests that the fragmented nature of the challenging movements decrease the ability of the regime to negotiate, due to more severe grievance of the 'neglected' groups in case the government only partially accommodates the requests of an internally divided movement. Assessing this question has important policy implications, as it would help to better understand the mechanisms driving the dissent- repression spiral that often leads to an escalation of political violence. This, ideally, facilitates Political Institutions and International Organizations in improving Mediation and Conflict Resolution programs.

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