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Isabela Mares
From Open Secrets to Secret Ballots: The Adoption of Political Reforms Protecting Electoral Autonomy


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How did European countries democratize their electoral practices? While the expansion of suffrage was momentous political change, it represented only the first step in the process of democratization. In this talk, Mares examines the adoption of subsequent electoral reforms that protected the electoral autonomy of voters and sought to minimize undue electoral influences. Empirically, she examines the adoption of reforms protecting electoral secrecy in Imperial Germany during the period between 1870 and 1912 and contrasts them to similar reforms enacted in France and Britain. By employing a micro-historical analysis, she analyzes the economic and political factors that affected the willingness of German politicians to support these electoral reforms.
Isabela Mares is Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, New York. Her research has covered a wide range of topics in comparative social policy and comparative political economy, including the development of social insurance institutions, the effects of wage bargaining institutions on economic outcomes, and social policy reform in developing countries. Her research has won numerous awards, including the Gregory Luebbert Awards of the American Political Science Association for the best book and for the best article in comparative politics. The talk is based on Mares’ forthcoming book From Open Secrets to Secret Ballots (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Selected publications
  • From Open Secrets to Secret Voting: The Adoption of Electoral Reforms Protecting Voters against Electoral Intimidation. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015.
  • Taxation, Wage Bargaining and Unemployment. Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • The Politics of Social Risk: Business and Welfare State Development. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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