My broader research interests include comparative political behavior, political economy, and democratization. Some of my work on these topics can be found below.
Kim, Mi-son, and Frederick Solt. Forthcoming. “The Dynamics of Party Relabeling: Why Do Parties Change Names?” Party Politics. (Pre-publication copy available here; replication files available here.)
Contrary to longstanding arguments that equate parties with durable, information-rich brand names, relabeling of parties is not rare, and in many countries it is not even very unusual. This paper provides the first effort to document this neglected phenomenon. It finds that across European democracies, roughly a third of all parties have relabeled themselves at least once since 1945, and a similar proportion of elections include at least one party running under a new name. It then presents analyses of why parties change names more frequently in some circumstances, finding support for three explanations derived from the existing literature: parties with longer-standing brands are less likely to shed them, but relabeling is more likely for parties that suffer electoral setbacks and for parties in weaker party systems. Finally, it presents evidence that the end of Soviet communism made left parties more likely to rename themselves.
Solt, Frederick, Dongkyu Kim, Kyu Young Lee, Spencer Willardson, and Seokdong Kim. 2014. “Neoliberal Reform and Protest in Latin American Democracies: A Replication and Correction.” Research and Politics 1(2):1-13. (Replication files available here.)
Do neoliberal economic reforms in Latin American democracies mobilize citizens to overcome their collective action problems and protest? A recent addition to the scholarship on this crucial question of the relationship of markets and politics, Bellinger and Arce (2011), concludes that economic liberalization does have this effect, working to repoliticize collective actors and reinvigorate democracy. We reexamine the article’s analyses and demonstrate that they misinterpret the marginal effect of the variables of theoretical interest. Thus, the article’s optimistic claims about the consequences for democracy of economic liberalization in the region are not supported by its own empirical results. It is argued here that its results suggest instead that protests became more common in autocracies when they moved away from markets. Rather than speaking to how people have mobilized to protest against liberal reforms in Latin America’s democracies, the work’s analyses illuminate only when people protested against the region’s dictatorships.
Searing, Donald, Frederick Solt, Pamela Johnston Conover, and Ivor Crewe. 2007. “Public Discussion in the Deliberative System: Does It Make Better Citizens?” British Journal of Political Science 37(4):587-618.
In democratic theory, the practice of discussing public affairs has been associated with desirable consequences for citizenship and democracy. We use Anglo-American survey data to examine twelve hypotheses about psychological foundations for four general conditions that such discussions might promote: autonomous citizens, political legitimacy, good representation and democratic communities. Our data combine detailed measures of public discussion with measures of more of its hypothesized civic consequences than have heretofore been available. They also enable us to probe, using specialized samples, causal inferences suggested by our analyses of random samples in our British and American communities. Six of the hypotheses are supported, including at least one regarding each of the four general liberal democratic conditions we investigate.
Solt, Frederick. 2004. “Electoral Competition, Legislative Pluralism, and Institutional Development: Evidence from Mexico’s States.” Latin American Research Review 39(1):155-167.
In presidential systems such as those of Latin America, the institutionalization of legislatures as autonomous representative bodies able to constrain executives and check abuses of power is an important aspect of democratization. Drawing on the experiences of Mexico’s state governments, this article seeks to explain differences in legislative institutionalization. It argues that pluralism within the legislature, rather than electoral competition in itself, provides the best explanation for institutionalization. A process-tracing analysis of the state legislature of Michoacán supports this argument, and a statistical analysis of Mexico’s thirty-one states confirms that pluralism in the electorate does shape legislative pluralism—and so indirectly the extent of pressures for institutionalization—but reveals that differences in electoral law also play an important role.
Solt, Frederick. 2001. “Institutional Effects on Democratic Transitions: Neo-Patrimonial Regimes in Africa, 1989-1994.” Studies in Comparative International Development 36(2):82-91.
The outcomes of political transitions during the late 1980s and early 1990s varied considerably across sub-Saharan African countries. In their well-received book, Michael Bratton and Nicolas van de Walle (1997) concluded that the differences in sub-Saharan Africa’s incumbent neo-patrimonial regimes shaped contingent factors such as political protests and military interventions that were important to transition outcomes, but did not themselves directly influence the success of transitions. Shortcomings in their statistical analysis, however, cast doubt on this conclusion. This article presents an ordered logit analysis of Bratton and van de Walle’s rich dataset that corrects these flaws. It concludes that institutions did more than merely shape contingent events; they had powerful and independent direct effects on the outcomes of political transitions in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.