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Centrum voor politicologie

Micha Germann is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Political Science Research at KU Leuven. He previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and a visiting position at Yale University. He obtained his PhD from ETH Zurich in 2017 and holds a Master's degree in Political Science from the University of Zurich (2012). His research interests include direct democracy, democratic innovations, e-democracy, and political participation, but also civil war, self-determination conflicts, and power-sharing. His work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Electoral Studies, the European Political Science Review, and Acta Politica.

Publications

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  • Mendez, Fernando; Germann, Micha; 2018. Contested Sovereignty: Mapping Referendums on Sovereignty over Time and Space. British Journal of Political Science; 2018; Vol. 48; iss. 1; pp. 141 - 165
    LIRIAS1862280
    description
    The recent proliferation of referendums on sovereignty matters has fuelled growing scholarly interest. However, comparative research is hindered by the weaknesses of current compilations, which tend to suffer from conceptual vagueness, varied coding decisions, incomplete coverage and ad hoc categorizations. Based on an improved conceptualization and theory-driven typology, this article presents a new dataset of 602 sovereignty referendums from 1776–2012, more than double the number in existing lists. In an exploratory analysis, it uncovers eight distinctive clusters of sovereignty referendums and identifies patterns of activity over time and space as well as outcomes produced.
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Publishing Division
    Published
  • Sambanis, Nicholas; Germann, Micha; Schädel, Andreas; 2018. SDM: A New Dataset on Self-Determination Movements with an Application to the Reputational Theory of Conflict. Journal Of Conflict Resolution; 2018; Vol. 62; iss. 3; pp. 656 - 686
    LIRIAS1862279
    description
    This article presents a new data set on self-determination movements (SDMs) with universal coverage for the period from 1945 to 2012. The data set corrects the selection bias that characterizes previous efforts to code SDMs and significantly expands coverage relative to the extant literature. For a random sample of cases, we add information on state–movement interactions and several attributes of SDM groups. The data can be used to study the causes of SDMs, the escalation of self-determination (SD) conflicts over time, and several other theoretical arguments concerning separatist conflict that have previously been tested with incomplete or inferior data. We demonstrate the usefulness of the new data set by revisiting Barbara Walter’s influential argument that governments will not accommodate SD challengers if they face several potential future challengers down the road because they want to build a reputation for strength. We do not find support for Walter’s reputational theory of separatist conflict.
    Publisher: SAGE Publications
    Published
  • presentation
    Germann, Micha; Sambanis, Nicholas; 2018. Political Exclusion, Lost Autonomy, and Violent and Nonviolent Separatism.
    LIRIAS1862287
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  • media
    Germann, Micha; 2017. Autonomiebewegungen in Europa. Publisher: Radio Interview, Radio SRF 4 News, October 9, 2017.
    LIRIAS1862290
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    Published
  • Germann, Micha; 2017. Pax populi or casus belli? On the conflict resolution potential of self-determination referendums.
    LIRIAS1862288
    description
    This dissertation investigates the conflict resolution potential of self-determination referendums. Over the past few decades, the use of referendums in the context of conflicts over secession and autonomy has proliferated remarkably. Self-determination referendums are also increasingly advocated by the international community, from Bosnia to Northern Ireland, East Timor, and South Sudan. However, very little is known about their ability to resolve conflicts over self-determination peacefully. Several perspectives can be found in the existing literature. While some see self-determination referendums positively, others see them as prone to incite violent conflict, and still others argue that self-determination referendums are likely to contribute to peaceful conflict resolution under some but not other conditions. To date, very little systematic empirical evidence exists to support either of these views. In this dissertation I develop an argument that the conflict resolution potential of self-determination referendums depends on whether their terms have previously been agreed by the two main parties to separatist conflicts, states and self-determination movements. I argue that mutually agreed self-determination referendums are likely to create a positive dynamic and increase chances for peace. Several reasons are made out, all generally related to the high legitimacy associated with agreed self-determination referendums. First, they are likely to foster perceptions of fair decision-making. Second, they may contribute to a reversal of hostile images. Third, they may lead to referendum-related coalitions that are willing to support their outcome. Fourth, they may sometimes push forward a peace process that would otherwise be blocked. And finally, they may increase the durability of settlements and alleviate commitment problems. By contrast, I argue that if self-determination referendums are unilaterally invoked by a state or a self-determination movement, they become more likely to inflame tensions than to reduce them. The legitimacy of unilateral self-determination referendums is often contested. Unilateral referendums are thus unlikely to have any of the beneficial consequences associated with agreed referendums. Rather, they are likely to entrench grievances, to generate reputation costs, and to reduce the bargaining range available for a negotiated settlement. Thus, unilateral self-determination referendums are likely to increase the risk of separatist armed conflict. The hypothesized effects of agreed and unilateral self-determination referendums are evaluated through a series of statistical tests. The main challenge this presents is the endogeneity of agreed and unilateral self-determination referendums to conflict processes. Finding agreement on a self-determination referendum often requires a substantial willingness to compromise, whereas this willingness is typically lacking in the case of unilateral self-determination referendums. Thus, while agreed referendums tend to emerge in rather peaceful and benign contexts, unilateral referendums tend to emerge in situations with an already significant ex-ante risk of separatist armed conflict. To counter the emanating threats to causal inference, I employ multiple regression in an effort to partial out the causal effects of agreed and unilateral self-determination referendums. The list of covariates is carefully assembled based on a separate analysis of the determinants of agreed and unilateral self-determination referendums. Relying on new data on self-determination referendums and noncolonial self-determination disputes in European and Asian countries, I find strong support for the argument that prior agreement on the terms of self-determination referendums shapes their conflict resolution potential. In line with expectations, I find that agreed self-determination referendums decrease the probability of new outbreaks of separatist armed conflict while increasing the probability that ongoing separatist armed conflicts come to an end. Also in line with expectations, I find that unilaterally initiated self-determination referendums increase the risk of new separatist armed conflicts and, where violence is already ongoing, the risk that separatist armed conflict continues. An extensive sensitivity analysis reveals that most results are robust to a great number of alternative measurement and specification choices, including fixed effects estimation, as well as to the possibility of hidden bias due to omitted confounders. The only partial exception emerges for the effect of agreed self-determination referendums on outbreaks of new separatist armed conflicts. Overall, the findings of this study suggest that self-determination referendums have value for conflict resolution, but only in situations where agreement can be reached between the key stakeholders on their terms.

    Published
  • Germann, Micha; Serdült, Uwe; 2017. Internet voting and turnout: Evidence from Switzerland. Electoral Studies; 2017; Vol. 47; pp. 1 - 12
    LIRIAS1862281
    description
    Internet voting (i-voting) is often discussed as a potential remedy against declining turnout rates. This paper presents new evidence on the causal effect of i-voting on turnout, drawing on trials conducted in two Swiss cantons: Geneva and Zurich. Both Geneva and Zurich constitute hard cases for i-voting, given that i-voting was introduced in the presence of postal voting. However, this setting allows us to test some of the more optimistic claims regarding i-voting's ability to increase turnout. Empirically, we exploit the advantageous circumstance that federal legislation created a situation coming close to a natural experiment, with some of Geneva's and Zurich's municipalities participating in i-voting trials and others not. Using difference-in-differences estimation, we find that i-voting did not increase turnout in the cantons of Geneva and Zurich.
    Publisher: Butterworths
    Published
  • presentation
    Sambanis, Nicholas; Germann, Micha; Schädel, Andreas; 2016. SDM: A new data set on self-determination movements.
    LIRIAS1862286
    description


    Published
  • Germann, Micha; Mendez, Fernando; 2016. Dynamic scale validation reloaded: Assessing the psychometric properties of latent measures of ideology in VAA spatial maps. Quality and Quantity; 2016; Vol. 50; iss. 3; pp. 981 - 1007
    LIRIAS1862282
    description
    Voting advice applications (VAAs), online tools that provide voters with an estimate of their ideological congruence with political parties or candidates, have become increasingly popular in recent years. Many VAAs draw on low-dimensional spatial representations to match voters to political elites. Yet VAA spatial maps tend to be defined purely on a priori grounds. Thus fundamental psychometric properties, such as unidimensionality and reliability, remain unchecked and potentially violated. This practice can be damaging to the quality of spatial matches. In this paper we propose dynamic scale validation (DSV) as a method to empirically validate and thereby improve VAA spatial maps. The basic logic is to draw on data generated by users who access the VAA soon after its launch for an evaluation (and potential adjustment) of the spatial maps. We demonstrate the usefulness of DSV drawing on data from three actual VAAs: ParteieNavi, votulmeu and choose4cyprus.
    Publisher: Springer
    Published
  • Bernauer, Julian; Bühlmann, Marc; Vatter, Adrian; Germann, Micha; 2016. Taking the multidimensionality of democracy seriously: Institutional patterns and the quality of democracy. European Political Science Review; 2016; Vol. 8; iss. 3; pp. 473 - 494
    LIRIAS1862284
    description
    Democracies come in all shapes and sizes. Which configuration of political institutions produces the highest democratic quality is a notorious debate. The lineup of contenders includes ‘consensus’, ‘Westminster’, and ‘centripetal’ democracy. A trend in the evaluation of the relationship between empirical patterns of democracy and its quality is that the multidimensional nature of both concepts is increasingly taken into account. This article tests the assertion that certain centripetal configurations of proportionality in party systems and government, and unitarism in the remaining state structure, might outperform all other alternatives both in terms of inclusiveness and effectiveness. Analyzing 33 democracies, the results of interactive regression models only partially support this claim. Proportional–unitary democracies have the best track record in terms of representation, but there are little differences in participation, transparency, and government capability compared with other models.
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Published
  • Germann, Micha; Mendez, Fernando; Wheatley, Jonathan; Serdült, Uwe; 2015. Spatial maps in voting advice applications: The case for dynamic scale validation. Acta Politica; 2015; Vol. 50; iss. 2; pp. 214 - 238
    LIRIAS1862283
    description
    Low-dimensional spatial representations of political preferences are a widespread feature of voting advice applications (VAAs). Currently, VAA spatial maps tend to be defined on the basis of a priori reasoning. This article argues that VAA spatial maps should be empirically validated to safeguard fundamental psychometric properties – in particular, unidimensionality and reliability. We suggest dynamic scale validation as a pragmatic method for improving measurement quality in VAA spatial maps. The basic logic of dynamic scale validation is to exploit early user data as a benchmark against which ex-ante defined maps can be evaluated. We draw on data from one of the most institutionalized VAA settings, Switzerland, to illustrate this dynamic approach to scale validation.
    Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (part of Springer Nature)
    Published
  • presentation
    Sambanis, Nicholas; Germann, Micha; Schädel, Andreas; 2015. Introducing SDM: A new data set on self-determination movements.
    LIRIAS1862297
    description


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  • presentation
    Germann, Micha; Gemenis, Kostas; 2015. Getting out the vote with voting advice applications.
    LIRIAS1862292
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  • Serdült, Uwe; Germann, Micha; Mendez, Fernando; Harris, Maja; Portenier, Alicia; 2015. Who are the Internet voters?. Electronic Government and Electronic Participation; 2015; pp. 27 - 41 Publisher: IOS Press; Amsterdam
    LIRIAS1862291
    description
    Assessing the influence that socio-economic characteristics have on the division between traditional voters and those who choose to vote via the internet is crucial to political debate as well as for the future development of democracies. Does the introduction of internet voting technology simply widen the divide between voters and non-voters, further isolating the part of the electorate already underrepresented in the political process? We address these issues by reviewing the current state of research in 22 empirical studies relating internet voting to socio-economic variables. The results are not homogeneous but suggest that although socio-economic factors do play an important role in explaining the choice of voting channel, they are strongly moderated by the general use of and trust in the internet.

    Published
  • chapter
    Serdült, Uwe; Germann, Micha; Mendez, Fernando; Portenier, Alicia; Wellig, Christoph; 2015. Fifteen years of Internet voting in Switzerland: History, governance and use. ICEDEG 2015: Second International Conference on eDemocracy & eGovernment, Quito, Ecuador, 8-10 April 2015; 2015; pp. 149 - 156 Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; New York, NY
    LIRIAS1862285
    description
    This paper reviews the piecemeal introduction of internet voting in a highly federalised political setting, Switzerland. We trace the processes leading to the implementation of internet voting and the network of actors involved in its governance. In the empirical analysis we report usage patterns and take stock of what we know about the individual and socio-demographic profiles of internet voters.

    Published
  • Germann, Micha; 2015. Politische Desinformation vor Wahlen: die politischen Landkarten von Smartvote.
    LIRIAS1862289
    description


    Published
  • presentation
    Germann, Micha; 2015. Self-determination referendums and ethnic conflict.
    LIRIAS1862307
    description


    Published
  • presentation
    Sambanis, Nicholas; Germann, Micha; Schädel, Andreas; 2015. Introducing SDM: A new data set on self-determination movements.
    LIRIAS1862301
    description


    Published
  • presentation
    Mendez, Fernando; Germann, Micha; 2015. Contested sovereignty: Mapping referendums on the reallocation of sovereign authority over time and space.
    LIRIAS1862300
    description


    Published
  • presentation
    Germann, Micha; Mendez, Fernando; 2014. Contested sovereignty: Mapping referendums on the reallocation of sovereign authority over time and space.
    LIRIAS1862298
    description


    Published
  • presentation
    Germann, Micha; Gemenis, Kostas; 2014. Online gimmick or participation promoting tool? Smartvote and its effect on electoral turnout.
    LIRIAS1862308
    description


    Published