Simon Hug is Professor of Political Science at the University of Zurich. His research interests include the formation of new political parties, the effects of institutions - particularly the referendum and federalism - on decision-making and conflict resolution, as well as formal theory and research methods. He is the author of Altering Party Systems (University of Michigan Press, 2001) and Voices of Europe. Citizens, Referendums and European Integration (Rowman and Littlefield, 2002) and co-editor of, most recently, Tax Evasion, Trust and State Capacities (Peter Lang, 2006 (forthcoming)) with Nicolas Hayoz.
What can we learn from observed voting behavior of members of parliament? What role do personal political preferences, party pressure and constituency preferences play in voting decisions? Does the presence of direct-democratic institutions lead to a closer correspondence between the voters’ preferences and policy outcomes? If so, do different types of direct-democratic institutions have different effects in this respect? How can political institutions help in mitigating societal conflicts and prevent civil wars? Are particular institutions better able to avoid conflict during democratization efforts in weak states and ethnically divided societies?