09 May 2008

Nobel Taagepera

Great news!

Our colleague Rein Taagepera (University of California at Irvine and Tartu University, Estonia) has been awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science “for his profound analysis of the function of electoral systems in representative democracy”.

The Skytte Prize was commented in one of the first posts of this Blog (10 September 2006) as “the most significant attempt to create a worldwide prize in Political Science with similar prestige as the Nobel Prizes”.

Rein Taagepera has participated in at least six occasions in the discussions in this Blog. A brief summary of his comments can enlighten the reader about his analytical insights and the broad scope of his intellectual and other interests.

1) In the post ‘Academics Entering Politics (22 October 2006), I included Taagepera’s account of his running for President of Estonia in the first post-Soviet election in 1992 and his further part-time political activism there. Among other things he said to have learned from the experience that: “A scholar chooses the problems s/he wishes to work on; while problems choose the politician whether s/he wants to deal with them or not. However, a scholar doesn't take a position unless s/he is pretty certain; a politician has to take a stand even when s/he is less than 50 % certain of the option advocated.”

2) In the post ‘Estonian Political Laboratory’ (03 March 2007), written on the occasion of a parliamentary election there, I summarized Taagepera’s influence on the design of the electoral system and other institutional rules in the previous process of democratization.

3) The post ‘Freedom for Scotland (05 May 2007) finished with the statement that: “Small nations like Scotland are now viable and, at the same time, better fit than large, heterogeneous states for democratic self-government.”
Taagepera responded: “Of course. I very much agree that the national state no longer represents the optimal or actual unit on all dimensions --cultural, economic, military, etc. It always was a somewhat artificial pretension… Why should Scotland, Catalonia, Bavaria (who still had its own stamps less than 100 years ago), Corsica and Mezzogiorno be forced to deal with the European Union through some intermediary centers, if they should prefer direct access? This is not to say they MUST go separate. The decision should be up to them --and only them.”

4) On the post ‘Bringing the Empire Back In’ (02 June 2007), where Taageppera’s works on historical empires were cited, Taagepera said:
Yes, [Samuel] Finer's work [The History of Government from the Earliest Times] is "impressive, indispensable and irregular "-- inevitably the latter, given his death before he could tidy it up… Yet it would be a superb challenge to turn Finer into something more systematic, preferably with a quantitative backbone, for which he has bits and pieces.

5) The post ‘Brussels, Federal District' (16 September 2007) ended with the bet that “If Flanders and Wallonia stay ruling on their own, Brussels could just become the federal district of Europe, located as it is --somehow like Washington DC is in America-- at the meeting point between the North and the South of the Union.” To which Taagepera commented: “Yes, it's quite likely”.

6) Finally, in the post ‘Large Assemblies, Small Districts’ (13 January 2008), I extensively commented and drawn on Taagepera’s most recent book Predicting Party Sizes focusing on his formula relating the number of parties in parliament, P, with the average district number of seats, M, and the total number of seats in the assembly, S; in his notation:
P = (MS)1/4
This opened one of the most lively, long and interesting discussions in this Blog so far.

So thank you, Rein, for everything !!!


COMMENTS


Matthew Shugart said...

This is such a richly deserved honor for Rein.
San Diego, California


Rob Richie said...

Noble and Nobel indeed!
Thanks for this good news, Joseph, and big congratulations, Rein.

Rob
Fair Vote
Maryland

1 Comments:

Anonymous Matthew Shugart said...

This is such a richly deserved honor for Rein.

9:54 PM  

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