Past projects

Research on national parliaments
Hug, Simon, Simone Wegmann and Reto Wüest. “Parliamentary Voting Procedures in Comparison”.
Increasingly, scholars of legislative politics propose comparative analyses of parliamentary voting behavior across different countries and parliaments. Yet parliamentary voting procedures differ dramatically across parliamentary chambers and ignoring these differences may, in the extreme, lead to meaningless comparisons. In this paper we present a first glimpse at a comprehensive data collection effort covering more than 250 parliamentary chambers in 176 countries. Focusing on European legislatures we find some notable differences as compared to previous studies on parliamentary voting procedures. We propose to analyze what explains the presence and use of various voting procedures and find that electoral institutions play a non-negligeable role.
Published article:
Hug, Simon, Simone Wegmann and Reto Wüest. 2015. Parliamentary voting procedures in comparison. West European Politics 38(5): 940–968. Article

Research on characteristics of democracies
Knutsen, Carl Henrik and Simone Wegmann. “Is democracy about redistribution?”
Several prominent arguments in the social sciences draw on the assumption that progressive redistribution is a central feature of democratic politics. Applying this premise, it is, for instance, argued that the poor should favor democracy, whereas rich elites should be antagonistic. In this paper, we conduct an empirical investigation of the assumption by analyzing individual opinions about whether progressive taxation and redistribution is among the central characteristics of democracy. We further analyze what factors make individuals more or less likely to consider redistribution a central aspect of democracy. We discuss how our findings may contribute to explain two of the central puzzles in comparative politics, I) why do democracies not promote more redistributive policies than autocracies, and II) why is there no net empirical relationship between income inequality and democratization.
Published article:
Knutsen, Carl Henrik and Simone Wegmann. 2016. Is democracy about redistribution? Democratization 23(1): 164-192. Article

Research on international institutions
Carneiro, Cristiane Lucena and Simone Wegmann. “Institutional complexity in the Inter-American Human Rights System: an investigation of the prohibition of torture”
Institutional complexity has enjoyed growing attention in the literature on international regimes. However, the concept has not found wide application in the field of human rights research. This article argues that institutional complexity is an important aspect of the international human rights regime, in particular because it may affect the compliance record, impact and effectiveness of international human rights commitments that states enter into. This article analyses the evolution of the prohibition of torture within the Inter-American Human Rights System through the lens of institutional complexity. It proposes that institutional complexity can be captured by two indicators: states’ subscription to human rights treaties and their decision density on human rights. Detailed descriptive statistics show the evolution of recommendations, decisions and judgments issued by the judicial and quasi-judicial institutions that operate under the system, and the share of treaty ratifications in the region between 1980 and 2012. The analysis corroborates the theory that the Inter-American Human Rights System has evolved in the direction of greater institutional complexity. This analysis is complemented by an overview of the historical evolution of the institutions created by the regime, with a focus on developments of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights’ mandate over the years.
Published article:
Carneiro, Cristiane Lucena and Simone Wegmann. 2017. Institutional complexity in the Inter-American Human Rights System: an investigation of the prohibition of torture. The International Journal of Human Rights. Published online Article

Hug, Simon and Simone Wegmann. “Comlying with human rights”
The empirical assessment of how signatories of human rights conventions comply with their agreed to obligations has yielded so far conflicting results, especially regarding the compliance mechanisms that are the most promising to ensure improving human rights records. We argue that this has to do with the fact that dierent compliance mechanisms have been assessed in isolation, without considering possible interactions. To assess this argument, we propose a novel way to assess the eect of these mechanisms by relying on a Markov-transition model and that human rights violations are time dependent as well as evidence of the effect of independent variables to be conditional on previous human rights violations and on the strength of human rights compliance systems.
Published article:
Hug, Simon and Simone Wegmann. 2016. Complying with human rights. International interactions 42(4): 590-615. Article

Hug, Simon and Simone Wegmann. “Ten years in the United Nations: Where does Switzerland stand?”
Prior to its full membership in the United Nations, Switzerland was an active observer and even an active member of many specialized UN agencies. However, ten years ago, Swiss voters finally approved full UN membership and in 2002, behavioral data started to become available on Switzerland’s involvement in the major UN assemblies. Switzerland was admitted to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as a full member on September 10th, 2002 and was elected to the newly created UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2006. Switzerland wished to be an active partner in both of these assemblies. In this research note we describe, based on novel data collected on the UNGA and the UNHRC, how Switzerland positions itself in the “orchestra of nations.”
Published article:
Hug, Simon and Simone Wegmann. Ten years in the United Nations: Where does Switzerland stand? Swiss Political Science Review 19(2): 212–232. Article