Units vs. units: disentangling the institutional effects of asymmetric autonomy
Does the institutionalization of asymmetric autonomy alter the political competitiveness in federations and quasi-federations? Do citizens belonging to regions with different levels of autonomy care about being treated differently? And if this is the case, does the effect of asymmetries manifest, and thus, is it distinguishable from regular multilevel partisan competition in federations and quasi-federations? Drawing on the increasing institutional design variation in modern federations and quasi-federations, this dissertation is intended to answer these questions, among others, and to that purpose, it follows a three paper compilation structure. Below, I provide a brief synopsis of each of these articles.
Units versus units: fiscal bargaining dynamics under constitutional asymmetries
Political bargaining in federations is viewed through the federative lens by some, through the partisan lens by others, and more recently through the integrated incentives stemming from both. These discussions, for the most part, are theory-biased, as unraveling empirically federative from partisan dynamics has proven difficult. This paper proposes an approach for estimating separable institutional effects on these two primary types of political competitiveness in federations. In Spain, a well-known example of an asymmetric quasi-federation, there are periods of time formally designated for renegotiating the terms of units' participation in the union. These times are distinct from the partisan cycle as driven by the electoral calendar, and thus, present the opportunity to test the main implications of the model of units vs. units that is presented. By relying on a complete analysis of regional revenues from 1986 to 2011, I find significant differences in redistributive flows during the renegotiation versus election intervals.
Symptoms of disintegration: State-wide parties' multilevel policy positions under constitutional asymmetries
How do state-wide parties choose their policy positions on territorial issues in multilevel contexts? Studies of endogenous decentralization portray them as strategic actors that contest each other by selectively emphasizing or positioning themselves on issues of centralization or decentralization to maximize their electoral success at different territorial levels. A more recent corpus of studies has shown the centrifugal stress to which these parties are exposed when competing against especially strong, electorally successful, regionalist parties. In this paper I take a different tack. I here argue that the existence of asymmetries generates a competitive dynamic for state-wide parties that is distinguishable and separable from those previously identified, and test for this argument by relying on these parties' national and regional electoral manifestos. Results confirm the existence of a significant multilevel programatic mismatch in these organizations in the presence of asymmetries.
Delenda est autonomia? Variation in perceptions of regional economies in the context of the Great Recession
Drawing on the vast scholarship on the impact of informational limits, values and predispositions on the formation of economic perceptions and evaluations, this article explores the institutional and political determinants of aggregate level variation regarding regional economy evaluations during the Great Recession. In this article, I use secondary but still unexplored data on positive evaluations of economy at the regional level, in one hundred and fifty regions belonging to fifteen European countries in 2012, to show the existing variation in congruence between objective economic conditions and aggregate subjective perceptions of the economy. This article does not only provide the first comparative empirical test on the effect of vertical clarity of responsibilities on citizens ability to interpret facts about their surrounding conditions, it does so by showing the interplay of institutional design variation and cleavage based politics in an ample sample of European democracies.