I am a PhD Candidate in the Government Department at Harvard University and a Graduate Student Associate of the Center for European Studies, Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and the Davis Center. You can find more information on my background in my CV.
My research focuses on voting and protest as two central forms of political participation and means for citizens to influence the state. I ask when and how do movements shape democratic politics? Under what conditions and why are activists elected to political offices? What opportunities do long-term changes to party systems in Europe create for movements and movement parties? How do citizens vote in new democracies and low-information and crisis environments? To answer these questions, I combine quantitative methods, including survey experiments and automated text analysis, with field and archival research. My work has appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Experimental Political Science, and Perspectives on Europe.
My dissertation offers a new framework for understanding the rise of movement politics in contemporary Europe. I argue that the increasing role of movements in institutional politics is a result of long-term process punctuated by crises, which open immediate opportunities for renewal of political elites. I focus on two such moments in Spain and Poland: transition to democracy and the current political crisis within a democratic system. I show that the mechanism through which movements gain importance in electoral politics is by supplying political candidates, who provide an alternative to a discredited elite. Social movements, despite mobilizational capacity, cannot match the organizational resources of political parties. However, from their ranks, they can propose political candidates with an ability to credibly signal both desirable character traits and ideological positions. Movement activists have a leadership advantage as skillful mobilizers of angry publics, who can frame grievances in culturally resonant language, as well as a reputational advantage as authentic representatives of the people. At times when disenchanted voters demand change, these characteristics make them electorally more appealing than experience offered by mainstream politicians. However, these advantages decline over time as political competition stabilizes after the crisis.