IParl at 10. Graduate Conference Party Research (GraPa)
For a decade, young scholars from various regions of Europe meet once a year at the “Graduate Conference Party Research” at the Institut für Deutsches und Internationales Parteienrecht und Parteienforschung (PRuF) based at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. After two instructive days in Düsseldorf, it can be concluded that there will be certainly no lack of creative approaches in international party studies in the future. Especially the topics of (right-wing) populism and inner-party democracy receive a lot of attention in Germany and Italy.
The opening speech by Thomas Poguntke, Director of the PRuF, was followed by the first panel entitled "Members of Parliament". In addition to the representation of invisible minorities in Great Britain (Lea Bönisch, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf), a dissertation project on representation deficits in Ghana was presented (Martin Acheampong, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg). Daniel Hellmann (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg) from the IParl presented his project on intra-party democracy at party conferences, in which he would like to take a special look at the selection of leaders. In the same panel, Kay Grunenberg (Chemnitz University of Technology) presented his analysis of the decision-making processes of party congress delegates. Anne Küppers (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn) and Dennis Michels (Universität Duisburg-Essen) also dealt with different facets of the inner-party decision-making process. While the former investigates the conditions for holding general meetings at the state level, Michels focuses on online forms of participation among SPD and Greens.
The diversity of topics is one of the special features of GraPa, not least because of its international orientation. On Friday afternoon, for example, a section on party financing in Italy took place. Silvia Filippi (University of Perugia) and Eduardo Caterina (University of Pisa) presented two different evaluation approaches for the latest changes in Italian party law. The second day began with two panels that were supposed to shed light on different perspectives on the changed party landscape in Europe. Paolo Marzi (University of Pisa) presented his project on Euroscepticism in governments, while Maria Giovanna N. Sessa (University of Pisa) focused on the voters of centre-right parties.