Below, I provide an overview of my past and ongoing research projects.

Meyerrose, Anna M., Flores, Thomas Edward, and Nooruddin, Irfan. (2019). “From Elections to Democracy in Hard Times.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.627.

The end of the Cold War, heralded as the ideological triumph of (Western) liberal democracy, was accompanied by an electoral boom and historically high levels of economic development. More recently, however, democratic progress has stalled, populism has been on the rise, and democracies around the world are either backsliding or failing entirely. What explains this contemporary crisis of democracy despite conditions theorized to promote democratic success? Focusing on the political–economic sources of ongoing democratic regressions, this essay proposes a research agenda that incorporates insights from studies on state building and institutions with recent approaches to democratization and democracy promotion, which focus predominantly on elections. Although necessary for democracy, free and fair elections are only effective at promoting democratic progress when they are held in states with strong institutions, such as those that can guarantee rule of law and constraints on executive power. However, increased globalization and international economic integration have stunted the development of these institutions by limiting states’ economic policy options, and, as a result, their fiscal policy space. When a state’s fiscal policy space—or, its ability to collect and spend revenue—is limited, governments are unable to provide public goods to citizens, politicians rely on populist rather than ideological appeals to win votes, and elections lose their democratizing potential. The political–economic framework proposed here provides avenues for additional research on the institutional aspects of ongoing democratization and democratic backslide.

Meyerrose, Anna M. (2018) “It is all about value: How domestic party brands influence voting patterns in the European Parliament.” Governance 31(4): 625-642. doi: 10.1111/gove.12327

Research on the European Parliament finds legislative voting patterns remained constant following the eastern enlargement of the European Union. This paper shows that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from these new member states are actually more likely to vote along European party lines. Given that these MEPs often come from less institutionalized domestic party systems that lack norms of legislative discipline, we should expect them to exhibit more erratic voting behavior than MEPs from mature systems. Why would stronger party discipline at the European level be associated with more volatile and fragmented domestic party systems? This paper argues MEPs from less institutionalized systems rely more on the brand of their European party, which provides better information and career opportunities than their parties at home, and thus are more likely to vote along European party lines. I find support for this theory using data from the sixth European Parliament (2004–2009).

The online appendix to the article can be found here.

Meyerrose, Anna M. “The Unintended Consequences of Democracy Promotion: International Organizations and Democratic Backsliding.” (R&R with minor revisions at Comparative Political Studies).

Since the end of the Cold War, international organizations (IOs) have engaged in unprecedented levels of democracy promotion, and research overwhelmingly links them to positive democratic outcomes. However, this increased emphasis on democracy has more recently been accompanied by rampant illiberalism and a sharp rise in cases of democratic backslide in new democracies. What explains democratic backslide in an age of unparalleled international support for democracy? Democratic backslide occurs when liberal democratic institutions are weakened or eroded, resulting in an illiberal or diminished form of democracy. I argue that democracy-promoting IOs unintentionally make democratic backslide more likely by neglecting to support democratic institutions other than executives and elections; increasing executive power; and limiting states’ domestic policy options, which stunts institutional development. Using an original indicator of democratic backslide, the Democratic Institutional Strength (DIS) index, and original and existing data on characteristics of IOs, I find that membership in IOs associated with democracy promotion makes democratic backslide more likely, decreases checks on executive power, and limits domestic policy options and party development in new democracies. These findings contribute to research on IOs and domestic regime outcomes, as well as to nascent theories of democratic backslide. 

Meyerrose, Anna M. “Democratic Backsliding in the European Union: The Unintended Consequences of European Integration for Democracy.” (Under review). 

Although the European Union (EU) is considered unrivaled in its democracy promoting abilities, democracy has recently been challenged within its borders. Since 2011, Hungary’s prime minister has debilitated or eliminated liberal democratic institutions; similar trends have emerged in Poland, the Czech Republic, and other new democracies in the EU. What explains these surprising cases of democratic backsliding? This paper argues that the EU’s post-Maastricht policy structure, accession process, and membership requirements have unintentionally made democratic backsliding more likely in new democracies by simultaneously limiting states’ domestic policy space, which stunts institutional development, and increasing relative executive power. This combination of factors creates opportunities for executives to manipulate already weak institutions to increase their power, and democratic backsliding becomes more likely. This argument builds on research on the limits of EU conditionality, bringing these findings under a common framework and extending them to explain theoretically the mechanisms linking EU membership requirements and democratic backsliding. By combining comparative case studies with large-n analysis, this paper finds evidence linking increased EU integration to backsliding.

Watson, Sara, Anna M. Meyerrose, and David Krosin. “Trade Shocks, Institutions and Political Polarization in French Politics.” (Working Paper)

In a number of advanced industrialized democracies, political parties on both the far right and far left are enjoying increasing electoral success. Recent research has linked these shifts away from the political center to economic globalization, citing increased import competition from low-wage economies–and the resulting economic hardships they induce-as one particularly potent source of voter discontent and political polarization. Although a growing body of literature explores how voters respond to increased economic integration, we know significantly less about how and the extent to which elected officials have been responsive to these shifts. Do trade shocks from low-wage economies result in increased polarization among politicians, as well as among voters? In this paper, we examine the extent to which changes in voter preferences due to globalization have tangible outcomes at the policy-making level, and the extent to which domestic institutions mediate these effects. We construct an original dataset of roll call votes in the French Senate to measure elite-level political polarization over time. Using instrumental variables analysis, we find evidence that higher levels of import competition result in increased polarization among French Senators. This effect is particularly potent among legislators in majoritarian (relative to proportional representation) districts, and also among those facing reelection. By specifying the conditions leading to increased elite-level polarization, these findings have important implications for ongoing research on how domestic institutions mediate the political consequences of globalization in mature democracies.