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    ABSTRACT: Despite the widely accepted theoretical prediction that high district magnitudes should yield less proportional results in plurality systems, empirical evidence is surprisingly mixed. We argue that these mixed results are ultimately due to a lack of clarity about the counterfactual being considered. We use a simple model to show that an increase in district magnitude reduces expected proportionality in a plurality system only if it is accompanied by a reduction in the number of districts. This conditional prediction helps to explain the diversity of existing findings and is consistent with our own analysis of both U.S. congressional delegations and local councils in Britain.
    Electoral Studies 01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Variation in the promotor region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) is a promising candidate for better understanding individual heterogeneity in subjective well-being or happiness, as measured by life satisfaction. This functional polymorphism has previously been associated with mental health and selective processing of positive and negative emotional stimuli. A case-control association study on a representative sample of Americans (N=2574) finds that individuals with the transcriptionally more efficient version of the serotonin transporter gene, report significantly higher levels of life satisfaction (P=0.01). This new finding may help explain the important genetic component of the individual baseline levels of happiness.
    Journal of Human Genetics 06/2011; 56(6):456-9.
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    ABSTRACT: Condorcet's jury theorem shows that when the members of a group have noisy but independent information about what is best for the group as a whole, majority decisions tend to outperform dictatorial ones. When voting is supplemented by communication, however, the resulting interdependencies between decision makers can strengthen or undermine this effect: they can facilitate information pooling, but also amplify errors. We consider an intriguing non-human case of independent information pooling combined with communication: the case of nest-site choice by honeybee (Apis mellifera) swarms. It is empirically well documented that when there are different nest sites that vary in quality, the bees usually choose the best one. We develop a new agent-based model of the bees' decision process and show that its remarkable reliability stems from a particular interplay of independence and interdependence between the bees.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 01/2009; 364(1518):755-62.
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    ABSTRACT: This article provides an overview of the gradual establishment since 1982 of territorial administrative autonomy on the French island of Corsica. The impetus for the reforms was provided by a growing self-determination movement concerned with protecting the specific Corsican identity and dealing with the social and economic challenges arising from insularity. It argues that neither institutional experimentation coupled with substantial aid nor periodic crackdowns on nationalists have succeeded in resolving the conflict. The difficult functioning of autonomy can be attributed in part to the late initiation of reform following the onset of violence as well as to weak and confusing arrangements, as well as an unfavourable political, economic and social context. The persistent use of violence by nationalists, partially justified by the fact that a number of their key demands remain unaddressed, and fuelled by inconsistent state policies, have constituted further obstacles. Last but not least, the extension of measures initially designed for Corsica to the rest of the French territory in successive waves of decentralisation have undermined the symbolic impact of the reforms.
    International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 08/2008; 15(2-3):273-312.
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    ABSTRACT: From Byron's death at Missolonghi in 1824 to D'Annunzio's capture of Fiume for Italy in 1919, the nationalism of universal liberalism and independence struggles changed, in literature as in politics, to cruel dictatorial fascism. Byron was followed by a series of idealistic fighter-poets and poet-martyrs for national freedom, but international tensions culminating in World War I exposed fully the intolerant, brutal side of nationalism. D'Annunzio, like Byron, both a major poet and charismatic war leader, was a key figure in transforming nineteenth-century democratic nationalism into twentieth-century dictatorial fascism. The poet's ‘lyrical dictatorship’ at Fiume (1919–20) inspired Mussolini's seizure of power in 1922, with far-reaching political consequences. The poet became the dangerous example of a Nietzschean Übermensch, above common morality, predatory and morally irresponsible. This article shows how the meaning of nationalism was partly determined and transformed by poets, illustrating their role as ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world’.
    Nations and Nationalism 07/2008; 14(3):478 - 497.
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    ABSTRACT: Adopting a neo-Gramscian framework, I argue that the Chilean Socialist Party (PSCh), as part of the governing Concertación coalition, has played a key role in constructing consent and disarticulating dissent to neo-liberal hegemony in Chile. This is the result of its co-optation into the neo-liberal historic bloc formed during the Pinochet dictatorship, of which the Concertación is the democratic political face. This process occurs in relation to the popular classes within, and outside, the PSCh, actualised by a series of intra-party, extra-party, policy-making and policy-discourse mediations. The analysis of the PSCh's role in (re)producing neo-liberal hegemony in Chile helps to unlock the black box of empirical and theoretical investigation as regards the construction of consent to neo-liberalism in the subordinated. In doing so it highlights the conflictual, contradictory and therefore contingent nature of this process.
    British Journal of Politics & International Relations 07/2007; 10(2):303 - 327.
  • British Journal of Politics & International Relations 04/2006; 8(2):299 - 302.
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    ABSTRACT: The Hebrew prayer book (siddur), the oldest of which dates from the ninth century, frequently expresses Jewish chosenness and hopes for the gathering of the exiles and the return to the Land of Israel. In nineteenth-century German Reform prayer books, such references to Jewish nationalism were altered or eliminated. In an age of growing European nationalism, this attempt to ‘de-nationalise’ Jewish identity was virtually unique. Responding to accusations that Jewish citizenship in the modern nation-state was incompatible with Judaism, Reform rabbis, who were engaged in the struggle for Jewish emancipation, claimed that patriotic loyalty to the German fatherland must supersede Jewish national identity. This article discusses the offending nationalist content of the siddur and the historical context in which it was suppressed. It concludes that the German reformers, by drawing attention to the nationalist potential of traditional Judaism, indirectly prepared the way for the rise of Jewish nationalism in reaction to racial anti-Semitism in the late nineteenth century.
    Nations and Nationalism 12/2005; 12(1):139 - 159.
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    ABSTRACT: The European Parliament's preferences on constitutional reform matter, and mattered more in the recent reform of the EU Treaties than ever before. This article looks at the formation of institutional reform preferences in the European Parliament by investigating the variance in institutional preferences among the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The article reviews the two main claims in the literature — that the Parliament is a preference-outlier and a unitary-actor — and tests the validity of these claims through a statistical analysis of the preferences of MEPs for various treaty reforms, as expressed in a survey in 2000. The findings demonstrate that MEPs are not particularly pro-integrationist on treaty reform issues and do not have homogenous preferences on these issues. One possible explanation of the gap between the existing theoretical assumptions and the actual preferences of MEPs is that the structure of representation and decision-making in Parliament and EU Council means that European Parliament decisions are usually further from the status quo than Council decisions.Comparative European Politics (2005) 3, 131–154. doi:10.1057/palgrave.cep.6110053
    Comparative European Politics 06/2005; 3(2):131-154.
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    ABSTRACT: The article looks at the condition of Brazil's political system in light of the 1998 electoral results. It critically examines arguments that electoral volatility, political fragmentation and weak institutionalisation have produced a highly unstable political system unsuitable for sound policy-making and processing change. While not underestimating the influence of electoral rules, it argues that given the combination of political, institutional and economic turmoil of the 1980s, it is not surprising that electoral volatility over the period was amongst the highest in the world. Arguably, however, these factors are now having a diminished impact on the political system, lessening volatility and allowing the emergence of a more institutionalised party system.
    Bulletin of Latin American Research 04/2005; 19(4):501 - 525.
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