Interview: Rad Zubek, visiting professor

Interview: Rad Zubek, visiting professor

On his new joint project about the National Assembly
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

Rad Zubek is a visiting professor at the CEE for one month (October - November 2022). He obtained a scholarship through the OxPo programme for this stay.

Rad, can you tell us about your academic background and research?

Sure, I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University. I joined Oxford after my PhD and a post-doc at the LSE. My current research focuses on the evolution of legislative institutions in European parliamentary democracies.

What are the main questions you are concerned with in your research?

Let me give you an example. In some parliaments, the institutional set-up is such that there is very little legislative scrutiny of governmental legislation. In other parliaments, however, the rules give members and party groups extensive powers to scrutinise legislation. Why? Is this a historical accident, or rather a result of strategic institutional choice by parties and members? These are the kind of questions I ask in my research. They are about legislative rules, but they also speak to a more general question in social sciences: why and how do humans create rules and institutions?

You applied to the OxPo exchange programme and chose to come to the CEE: can you tell us the reasons?

The reason why I applied to OxPo is that there are people here in the Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics that work on legislative institutions in France and I thought it would be great to expand my research project to cover the French context.

Together with a colleague at UCL, Tom Fleming, I have an ongoing data project on parliamentary rules. On the website we make available machine-readable texts of parliamentary rules for different national parliaments. We have created a dataset of all the rules that existed in the House of Commons since 1811. We have just finished similar work on the Irish Dáil since 1922 (the research I presented on at the seminar, on how coalition governments can use rules to achieve their goals, was based on this dataset) and I am in the process of researching the Tweede Kamer in the Netherlands since 1815 and the Polish Sejm since 1919.

With Olivier Rozenberg [Associate Professor at the CEE], we have decided to examine the National Assembly, starting in 1814. With a research assistant working with us at the CEE, Julie Squercioni, we are undertaking some preliminary data collection in October-November this year and hopefully this will provide a good basis for a bigger project. The French case is interesting because France has had a lot of constitutional breaks since the early 19th century, unlike the UK for example.

So we are very lucky to have you here as a visiting guest to expand on this open data project! What are your plans during your stay?

Another aspect of the project with Olivier [Rozenberg] is to explore ways in which we can engage with the services of the French National Assembly. Tom [Fleming] and I were very fortunate to have been able to collaborate with the House of Commons (HC) Library and the Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) in the UK. The HC Library and PDS have used our data and method to build a publicly available API on the parliament’s website which makes UK procedural data available to MPs and the public. It would be exciting to see if we could collaborate on similar or other projects with the National Assembly.


Interview: Véronique Etienne, Knowledge Exchange Officer, CEE

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