Just Published! A Sentiment-Democracy?

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A sentiment democracy?
When (and when not) politicians follow their Followers

Journal of Language & Politics (Journal IF: 0.386)

 

Acknowledgements: Voices from the blogs (http://voices-int.com) for sharing data and for providing access to the platform VOICES ANALYTICS, which has been used to perform the analysis;  the participants at the International Symposium on Re/Constructing Politics through Social and Online Media (Stockholm, 20–21 June 2016)

What is worth remembering:

  • Time series analysis of debates on the civil unions bill unveils a top-down hierarchy, suggesting
    that MPs are treating SNS users more as followers rather than principals
  • Sentiment analysis applied to the Fertility Day debate highlights that the Minister adjusted the communication campaign to comply with the blame expressed on SNS, though she did not resign
  • These analyses portray a more optimistic view in terms of accountability and transparency particularly by bringing to light intra-party politics dynamics.
  • SNS allow frontbenchers but also backbenchers to heed to the wills of their main
    principal.

Abstract

Does the interaction with the opinions of ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ affect the behavior of politicians? So far, little attention has been devoted to the effect of social networking sites (SNS) on ‘hard politics’ choices. Focusing on two case studies related to Italian politics, namely the debate on the civil unions bill and the ‘Fertility Day’ crisis, in 2016, this paper tries to fill this gap assessing the influence of SNS on the behavior of politicians. For this purpose, supervised aggregated sentiment analysis and time series analysis are used to evaluate whether politicians surrender to the pressure put on them by their followers. The findings highlight some positive effects in terms of accountability/transparency, though in terms of responsiveness politics seems to continue as usual, and the road toward a full ‘sentiment democracy’ is still far ahead.

Just Published! Trade Unions and Parties in Italy (1946-2014)

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Trade Unions and Parties in Italy: The “Transmission Belt”
 

South European Society & Politics (Journal IF: 2.018)

Co-author: Fedra Negri

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Codebook & Trade Unions Data: available in the online appendix

Acknowledgments: Liborio Mattina, Marcello Natili, and Furio Stamati, as well as participant at the annual general conference of the Italian Political Science Association, Milan, 15-17 September 2016.

What is worth remembering:

  • By hand-coding the motions of Trade Unions’ congresses we estimate their policy positions
  • We notice a transmission belt linking left-wing parties and Trade Unions
  • This relationship gets broken as left-wing parties incur in a process of “cartelization”

Abstract

The paper investigates party-union relationships in Italy (1946–2014) by hand-coding parties’ parliamentary speeches and trade unions’ congress motions. In line with the cartel party thesis, a time series analysis shows that the ideological closeness between the left-wing Italian General Confederation of Labour and left-wing parties deteriorated when the Italian Socialist Party (1980) and the heirs of the Italian Communist Party (1998) converged toward the centre of the ideological spectrum. Conversely, the closeness between the Catholic-inspired Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions and the heirs of Christian Democracy increased after 1994, when the former party’s leftist factions became the major part of the Italian Popular Party.

Just Published! March Divided, Fight United? Trade Unions and Government appeal for concertation

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March divided, fight united? Trade union cohesion and government appeal for concertation 

West European Politics (Journal IF: 2.512)

Co-author: Fedra Negri

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

 

What is worth remembering:

  • We measure policy preferences of trade unions by hand-coding unions’ congress motions 
  • When the government policy position is closer to trade unions, the government is more willing to appeal for concertation
  • When trade unions are more polarized, they become more appealing to the government as it can exploits unions’ division to negotiate a better deal

Abstract

Why does the government appeal for concertation? Starting from the principal‒agent framework and delegation theory, the article argues that the government is more willing to share decision-making power with trade unions when the policy preferences endorsed by the unions are closer to those of the cabinet. Furthermore, it maintains that government propensity to negotiate with trade unions increases as the heterogeneity of union policy preferences grows because the cabinet can exploit its agenda-setting power to divide the union front. The article tests these two hypotheses through a longitudinal analysis of the Italian case (1946–2014). In detail, it takes advantage of two original datasets built through content analysis that provide unique in-depth information on the policy preferences of parties and cabinets and measures the policy positions of the main Italian trade unions, thus allowing assessment of their reciprocal heterogeneity. The results confirm the expectations.

Just Published! Rotten apples spoil the ballot: Effect of corruption on parties’ vote shares

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When rotten apples spoil the ballot: The conditional effect of corruption charges on parties’ vote shares

International Political Science Review (Journal IF: 0.954)

Co-author: Marco Mainenti

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

 

What is worth remembering:

  • The electoral system moderates the effect of corruption charges on parties’ vote shares
  • Internal party rules related to selection of candidates moderate the effect of corruption charges on parties’ vote shares
  • To avoid the negative consequences of corruption charges on electoral performances, legislators could adopt an open list system or decentralized intra-party rules, preserving voters’ loyalty by allowing them to select individual candidates.
  • This has implications for the debate on the Italian electoral reform, given that some peculiar rules can limit the rise of anti-system parties when corruption scandals occur.

Abstract

The impact of corruption charges on the electoral performance of parties is conditioned by specific institutional factors. This article shows the extent to which the effects of political corruption depend on the control that party leaders exercise over the ballot. It is argued that voters might abstain or support other lists if they cannot select individual candidates to revitalize the reputation of the political party. Employing data on judicial investigations in Italy from 1983 to 2013, we provide evidence of the role of electoral rules and intra-party candidate selection in shaping the relationship between corruption and voters’ behaviour. Parties implicated in corruption or related crimes experience a loss of votes when they compete under a closed list formula or when the candidate selection process is strongly centralized.

Portfolio: Assessment of my 3-year assistant professorship

This summer I was asked (by my University) to fill the attached self-evaluation portfolio, which records all my achievements during this 3-year term. Since I had to spend quite a lot of time to fill this, and since I believe in transparency and in the evaluation of civil servants, I’m glad to make it publicly available. I’m pretty sure this is not a waste of time (I mean, filling a portfolio is more than filling a CV that you can find everywhere, isn’it? or not?). Anyway, taxpayers have the right to know how their money have been spent and what is the product of my work.

So, here it is: DOWNLOAD MY PORTFOLIO

And for the lazy ones, below you can find a summary #pleasejudgeme #misonopresosulseriale

SUMMARY

My key research achievements in this 31 months, in 2 different macro-areas of social sciences (parties/political institutions & social media/communication):
3 books published with Palgrave, Routledge and Springer (2 in English, 1 single-authored)
24 papers published in peer-reviewed journals during these 31 months (29 from the beginning of my career); 22 are in journals indexed in Scopus.
17 out of 24 in journals with Impact Factor. Average journal Impact Factor: 2.028; Impact Factor higher than 3 for 6 papers.
– Number of citations of these 24 papers: 234 (Google Scholar); 75 (Scopus). Average citations per each paper already registered in Scopus: 5.3
H-Index: 8 (Google Scholar); 4 (Scopus)
I have been co-founder and I am currently board member of Voices from the Blogs Srl, a spin-off of the University of Milan. It has filed a patent request (that is pending in the United States) concerning a new algorithm for supervised aggregated sentiment analysis (iSA). A free R package is made available too.

Through this spin-off I have been involved in several projects involving big enterprises, political parties and other public institutions. As a member of Voices from the Blogs I am currently serving as political analyst for the Italian Government (weekly monitoring online sentiment on a variety of topics).

I also wrote almost 200 articles in newspapers, magazines and academic blogs (mostly on analysis of social media but I am used to disseminating my research findings on every topic, including the study of political institutions)

I have started 2 big international collaborations. I am the co-founder of the “Party Congress Research Group”, project that aims at collecting and analyzing speeches delivered at intra-party conferences; I am also involved in the project “The Politics of Portfolio Design”, which aims at studying changes in ministerial organization across countries and over time.

As a member of Voices from the Blogs I have been involved in preparing several H2020 grant proposals one of which has got a score of 13.5/15 and has been included in the reserve list. I have also presented an individual proposal for the ERC Starting Grant.

Just Published! e-Campaigning and Valence Issues in EU Elections 2014

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e-Campaigning in the 2014 European elections. The emphasis on valence issues in a two-dimensional multiparty system

Party Politics (Journal IF: 1.830)

Co-authors: Luigi Curini

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

 

What is worth remembering:

  • Parties that are closer to many rivals adopt more valence campaigning
  • In two-dimensions this effect should be higher for ‘positive’ valence campaigning rather than ‘negative’ valence
  • In two-dimensions negative campaigning can benefit many other parties apart from the one that performs it (for proximity reasons)
  • In two-dimensions there is an incentive to tone down the debate
  • e-Campaigning on Twitter provides a novel precious source of information on political issues

Abstract

The article explores the relationship between the incentives of parties to campaign on valence issues and the ideological proximity between one party and its competitors. Building from the existing literature, we provide a novel theoretical model that investigates this relationship in a two-dimensional multiparty system. Our theoretical argument is then tested focusing on the 2014 European electoral campaign in the five largest European countries, through an analysis of the messages posted by parties in their official Twitter accounts. Our results highlight an inverse relationship between a party’s distance from its neighbors and its likelihood to emphasize valence issues. However, as suggested in our theoretical framework, this effect is statistically significant only with respect to valence positive campaigning. Our findings have implications for the literature on valence competition, electoral campaigns, and social media.

Just Published! Twitter vs Media: First and Second level Agenda Setting in Italy

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First and Second Level Agenda-Setting in the Twitter-Sphere. An Application to the Italian Political Debate

Journal of Information Technology & Politics

Co-authors: Luigi Curini & Stefano M. Iacus

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs for providing data

What is worth remembering:

  • We analyze agenda-setting focusing on two salient issues in the Italian political debate: austerity and the public funding of parties (related to Euro-skepticism and anti-politics)
  • We compared Twitter and the Online News
  • Using a Lead-Lag statistical technique we find that mass media still retain
  • First-Level Agenda-Setting: They influence the Twitter-attention toward an issue
  • Journalists can act as watch-dogs as their action can promote further (public) discussion also on anti-establishment issues
  • Using Supervised Sentiment Analysis we find that mass media do not exert Second-Level Agenda-Setting: They do not influence the Twitter-attitudes toward an issue
  • We found a citizen-elite divide between the opinions expressed on SNS and the slant spread by the media elite

Abstract

The rise of Social Network Sites re-opened the debate on the ability of traditional media to influence the public opinion and act as agenda-setter. To answer this question, the present paper investigates first-level and second-level agenda-setting effects in the online environment by focusing on two Italian heated political debates (the reform of public funding of parties and the debate over austerity). By employing innovative and efficient statistical methods like the lead-lag analysis and supervised sentiment analysis, we compare the attention devoted to each issue and the content spread by online news media and Twitter users. Our results show that online media keep their first-level agenda-setting power even though we find a marked difference between the slant of online news and the Twitter sentiment.