Germany map and flag

Event information:

Guest Speaker: 

Sabine Kropp, Professor of German Politics at the Freie Universität Berlin. Previously, she was Professor of Political Science at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer (2008-2013) as well as Professor of Comparative Politics and Public Policy at the Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf (2004-2008). Her primary field of research is comparative federalism and multilevel politics, with an emphasis on Germany and post-Soviet countries. A recurrent focus of her research is the change and resilience of institutional design in times of transition and crisis. 


André Lecours, Professor in the School of Political Studies and Research Director at the Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa


Federal systems form complex institutional structures, which provide conflicting incentives. They encourage the collaboration of governments but also enable self-serving and even opportunistic political strategies. As an embodiment of cooperative federalism, Germany is a case in point.

The lecture discusses how conflicting incentives of federalism are employed in times of crisis. It presents evidence from a research project that investigates how German party actors used conflicting institutional incentives during the pandemic. Based on a content analysis of 212 German parliamentary debates and 4,524 manually coded observations, the analysis reveals that party actors navigate conflicting incentives creatively.

German party actors employ a set of distinct discursive strategies that integrate both the need for cooperation and the possibility of self-interest. Parties in government which are stronger involved in intergovernmental bodies uphold a more cooperative discourse, while refraining from confrontational strategies towards federal institutions or other party actors. They are creative in that they invent “softer” self-serving strategies that avoid an overly obvious damage of others. Party actors that have been in government for a longer time period also refer more frequently to federal cooperative norms that are enshrined in the German constitution and enforced by the Constitutional Court. Also, the linkage between the vertically integrated party system, which incentivizes co-partisans to stick together across levels and constituent units, and the multi-colored coalition landscape counteract federal blame games. However, with increasing problem pressures and due to the strength of right-wing populist (extremist) parties in German parliaments, destructive strategies harming the cooperative federal institutions as such become more attractive.

The lecture will discuss possible implications of these equivocal dynamics for the persistence of the German model of cooperative federalism.

If you require accommodation, please contact the event host as soon as possible.
Date and time
Oct 16, 2023
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Format and location
In person
Social Sciences Building (FSS)
FSS 4004
General public, Researchers, Graduate students, Undergraduate students
Organized by
Centre on Governance