New Faculty Publications

Use of Sources in Newspaper Coveragee of the 2009 Bulgarian Parliamentary Elections
By: Daniela Dimitrova and Petia Kostadinova, 2012
Central European Journal of Communication 5(1): 81-92

Although the importance of news sources is widely acknowledged in journalism and political communication, few studies have examined source use in election news reporting in Bulgaria. Based on a content analysis of the two national dailies with the highest circulation, the present study demonstrates that domestic politicians vastly outnumber other types of sources. In addition, election news articles rarely incorporate more than one news source, thus limiting the diversity of opinions in the press. Such coverage may potentially lead to a narrowing of the range of discussion about political issues and give national political elites the power to define the issues for the public. 

Communicating Policy Change: Media Framing of Economic News in Post-Communist Bulgaria
By: Petia Kostadinova and Daniela Dimitrova, 2012
European Journal of Communication 27(2): 171-186

This study analyzes the role of media type, political institutions and type of news on the use of episodic, thematic, economic consequences, human interest and conflict frames when reporting economic news during seven elections in Bulgaria for the period 1990–2009. Analyzing 543 news stories from six newspapers, the authors find that thematic and economic consequences framing are determined both by the type of economic policy that is reported and by the type of newspaper that is publishing the story. The frequency of human interest framing is also affected by the kind of economic news that is the focus of the news story as well as partially by the broader political environment; such framing is also used more frequently in stories reporting highly contentious economic issues.

Identifying Antecedents of the Strategic Game Frame: A Longitudinal Analysis
By: Daniela Dimitrova and Petia Kostadinova, 2013
Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 90(1): 75-88

Although election news framing is a burgeoning area of research, empirical studies of what factors influence frame building remain rare, especially in non-Western countries. This study investigates the use of the strategic game frame and the relationship between that frame and system-level and organizational-level factors. The analysis focuses on the coverage of campaign news in six elite Bulgarian newspapers between 1990 and 2009. Results show that the type of electoral system, number of parties in government, and newspaper specialization are significant predictors of game frame use. The results are discussed in relation to framing research in Western Europe and the United States.

Democratic Performance in Post-communist Bulgaria: Election Pledges and Levels of Fulfillment, 1997-2005
By: Petia Kostadinova, 2013
East European Politics 29(2): 190-207

This study examines the nature of election promises made by political parties in Bulgaria during the 1997 and 2001 elections, and evaluates the factors that determine pledge fulfilment. The seven parties that took part in these elections made 792 pledges and fulfilled an average of 60% of them. A combination of institutional characteristics, i.e. size of the party, the nature of the pledges, as well as the agreement between pledges made by different parties, explains the probability of fulfilment. Election promises related to European Union accession are also more likely to be fulfilled than other types of pledges.

The 2013 Bulgarian Parliamentary Elections
By: Petia Kostadinova and Maria Popova, 2014
Electoral Studies. Volume 34, June 2014, Pages 365–368

The 12 May 2013 legislative elections in Bulgaria were precipitated by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's resignation in February of that year, and took place in the midst of wiretapping scandals and a pre-election discovery of (possibly illegally) overprinted ballots. The elections produced no clear winners, but marked several firsts in Bulgaria's post-communist democratic experience. The turnout was the lowest ever, with nearly half of the electorate staying home and not casting a vote. The outgoing incumbent captured the biggest share of the votes for the first time since competitive multiparty elections were re-introduced in 1990. And, in another first (at least since 2001), no new parties burst onto the political scene. The outcome was a minority coalition government between the Socialist-dominated Coalition for Bulgaria and the Turkish minority Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). The fact that this coalition enjoyed tacit but active support by Ataka led to the further legitimization of that radical nationalist party and illustrated its ascent to the position of kingmaker in Bulgarian politics.

Social Policy Arrangements across Europe: continuing disparities between social models in the EU?
By: Petia Kostadinova, 2014
L’Europe en formation 372 (Été 2014 - Summer 2014): 33-50

The 2014 Bulgarian Parliamentary Elections
By: Petia Kostadinova and Maria Popova, 2015.
Electoral Studies Volume 38, June 2015: 114-118

In the last 18 months, voters in Bulgaria went to the polls three times—at two national and one European Parliament (EP) elections. The national legislative elections on October 5, 2014, sent eight parties/coalitions to the National Assembly, making it the most fragmented legislature in the country's post-Communist democratic history. Four formations representing over a quarter of the vote share (Reform Bloc, Patriotic Front, Bulgaria Without Censorship, and Alternative for Bulgarian Renaissance) are newcomers to the legislature. At 51.04%, voter turnout was the lowest for national legislative elections since the Communist collapse. Negotiations for a new government took several weeks, resulting in a two-party minority coalition cabinet between Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and the Reformist Bloc (RB). Two other parties—Alternative for Bulgarian Renaissance (ABV) and Patriotic Front (PF)— voted for the government during the investiture vote and pledged to continue to support it without signing the coalition agreement.

Party pledges in the news:  Which election promises do media report?
By: Petia Kostadinova, 2015
Party Politics, Published online before print October 26, 2015

Focusing on Bulgaria, and covering the 1990–2009 period, this article analyses what factors predict if print media will report election promises made by political parties. The study utilizes two original datasets. One consists of 3083 pledges made by 15 parties ahead of seven elections. The second dataset includes news stories published by six newspapers during each election campaign. The analysis reveals that pledges made by the main political opponents during each election are more likely to be published than those by smaller parties. Pledges related to economic policy are also more likely to be discussed in the news than other types of pledges, although the opposite is true regarding promises related specifically to the country’s economic transition. Finally, in their reporting of pledges, print media do not reflect the salient ideological priorities of political parties.

Political Blackmail, Institutional Infighting and Electoral Politics: The Fate of Governing Parties during the Great Recession (2008-12) in Romania and Bulgaria
By: Petia Kostadinova and Magda Giurcanu, 2015
Politics & Policy 43(6): 789-821.

Center-right parties in government in Romania and Bulgaria navigated the economic downturns associated with the Great Recession (2008-12), and introduced austerity policies, yet had different electoral fates. While in Romania, the Democratic Liberal Party experienced a dramatic loss at the December 2012 elections, in Bulgaria, the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria topped the May 2013 vote. In this article, we analyze these divergent outcomes, taking into account institutional configurations, strength of governing parties, and economic conditions. We argue that the electoral effects of harsh economic policies are conditioned by differences in the institutional aspect of governmental “clarity of responsibility” during the peaks of the recession. These differences in institutional clarity become then key factors in understanding the electoral fates of the center-right parties in these governments.

Media in the New Democracies of Postcommunist Eastern Europe
By: Petia Kostadinova, 2015
East European Politics and Societies 29(2): 453-466.

This article discusses three aspects of media freedom—legal protection, ownership, and content—in the eleven post-communist countries that are now member states of the European Union. It provides a snapshot of political communication research on the region that focuses on links between media and political outcomes. The article discusses the role of communist legacies in explaining the diversity of media freedom across this set of countries, and proposes an agenda for post-communist media studies.

Improving the Transparency and Accountability of EU Institutions-The Impact of the Office of the European Ombudsman 
By: Petia Kostadinova, 2015
Journal of Common Market Studies 53(5): 1077-1093.

The article analyses the content of an original dataset of critical remarks and follow-up inquiries issued by the Office of European Ombudsman. The study shows that concerns about transparency and accountability dominate citizens’ complaints to the Ombudsman. In the majority of instances during or following an inquiry, institutions adopted the EO’s recommendations to increase the transparency and accountability of their practices. The article concludes with a broader discussion of the democratic dilemmas in the EU.

Racial Resentment and Whites' Gun Policy Preferences in Contemporary America 
By: Alexandria Filindra and Noah J. Kaplan
Political Behavior, 2015
***Received the Lucius Barker Award from the Midwest Political Science Association (2015)*** 
***Received best paper award from the Public Policy Section of the APSA (2014)***

Our study investigates how and why racial prejudice can fuel white opposition to gun restrictions. Drawing on research across disciplines, we suggest that the language of individual freedom used by the gun rights movement utilizes the same racially meaningful tropes as the rhetoric of the white resistance to black civil rights that developed after WWII and into the 1970s.  This indicates that the gun rights narrative is color-coded and evocative of racial resentment.  To determine whether racial prejudice depresses white support for gun control, we designed a priming experiment which exposed respondents to pictures of blacks and whites drawn from the IAT.  Results show that exposure to the prime suppressed support for gun control compared to the control, conditional upon a respondent’s level of racial resentment. Analyses of ANES data (2004-2013) reaffirm these findings. Racial resentment is a statistically significant and substantively important predictor of white opposition to gun control.

The Effect of Immigrant Welfare Policy Inclusion on the Educational Attainment of Latinos and Asians: A difference-in-Difference Analysis
By: Meghan Condon, Alexandra Filindra, Amber Wichowsky
Policy Studies Journal, 2015

The article presents a theoretical framework to evaluate the effects of policies that target immigrants and apply it toinvestigate how immigrant inclusion in the state social safety net affects educational attainment among Latino and Asian Americans. Following welfare reform in 1996, states gained considerable autonomy over welfare policy, including decisions about the eligibility of immigrant residents. Leveraging state-level data from before and after reform, we estimate a difference-in-difference model to identify the effect of variation in immigrant inclusivity on educational attainment. We find evidence that when states take steps to broaden the inclusivity of the social safety net to immigrants, young Latinos and Asians are more likely to persist in schooling and graduate from high school. This effect is present beyond the group of Latino and Asian residents who receive additional benefits, suggesting that policy decisions about immigrants communicate broader messages about social inclusion to racial and ethnic groups. We conclude that immigration related policy variation at the state level has consequences for the life prospects of the growing populations of Latino and Asian American youth.

Party Promises, Voter Understanding, and Mandate Responsiveness in East European Politics
By: Tatiana Kostadinova  and Petia Kostadinova
Politcis and Policy 44(1): 5-34

The literature on reform policy fulfillment after the collapse of Communism identifies mandate responsiveness as the weakest aspect of the quality of democracy in Eastern Europe. We build on this research and specify both direct and interaction effects of party promises and voter understanding on policy outcomes. On the empirical level, we develop a measure of citizen comprehension of party positions to analyze this component of the mandate model, previously omitted in much of the scholarship on the topic. Our findings suggest that elements of mandate responsiveness are emerging in the post-communist countries, and that they are present in some policy areas but not in others. The effect of campaign pledges on policy outcomes is contingent on voter awareness of what politicians promise. This knowledge is improved by the distinctiveness in party programs regarding democratization and marketization.

The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation: Beijing, Chicago, and Paris
By: Yue Zhang
University of Minnesota Press, 2013


Professor Zhang offers an in depth comparative analysis examining the politics of urban preservation in three global cities: Beijing, Chicago, and Paris. Starting in the 1980’s, Professor Zhang examines the vastly different preservation practices taken up by each of these cities. She argues that urban preservation is a strategic device used by political and social actors to advance their goals. Each case reveals the constraining effect of political fragmentation and conflicting interests upon preservation initiatives.

African Democracy and Development: Challenges for Post-Conflict African Nations
Edited by Cassandra R. Veney and Dick Simpson
Lexington Books, 2012


This edited volume provides analysis on several African states which are rebuilding their political, economic, social and educational institutions including Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Building from a 2009 conference hosted at UIC, each contributor addresses the challenges faced by these states in distinct interdisciplinary perspectives. The chapters included offer analysis of the various actors, agendas, constituents, and mandates in post-conflict Africa while not ignoring the importance of both formal institutions and civil society.

Twenty First Century Chicago
Edited by Dick Simpson, Constance A. Mixon, and Melissa Mouritsen Zmuda
Cognella Academic Publishing, 2012


This volume serves as an anthology for political speeches, newspaper stories, editorials, memoirs and biographies, and research reports that provide insight into the Chicago's social, economic, political and governmental conditions in the new century. Each selection provides insight into the the city's efforts to establish itself as a global metropolitan region despite facing serious issues. Throughout the book, the editors seek to create an understanding of the city's past while emphasizing its potential for a more positive future. 

American Urban Politics in a Global Age, 7th Edition
Edited by Paul Kantor and Dennis Judd
Pearson, 2012


This reader provides an updated selection of readings that examine the challenges faced by cities across the United States including continued economic crisis and the imperative for economic redevelopment. Part one offers analysis on the issues that arise for local governments given the American federal system, the increasingly interconnected nature of markets, and the pursuit of development. Part two includes selections that discuss the continued racial and economic tensions that face urban America. Part three explores the fiscal state of cities and their reactions to economic stress, terrorist threats and natural disasters. 

Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality
By: Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson
University of Illinois Press, 2015

CoruptIllinoisIn Corrupt Illinois, veteran political observers Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson take aim at business-as-usual. Naming names, the authors lead readers through a gallery of rogues and rotten apples to illustrate how generations of chicanery have undermined faith in, and hope for, honest government. From there, they lay out how to implement institutional reforms that provide accountability and eradicate the favoritism, sweetheart deals, and conflicts of interest corroding our civic life.

Winning Elections in the 21st Century
By: Dick Simpson and Betty O'Shaughnessy
Kansas University Press, 2016

WinningElectionsWritten by longtime political veterans, both former elected officials, Winning Elections is steeped in old-fashioned political know-how and savvy about the latest campaign techniques, methods, and strategies using social media, vote analytics, small donor online fundraising, and increasingly sophisticated microtargeting. Using examples from across the United States, the authors discuss the nuts and bolts of state and local races, as well as "best practices" in national elections. A successful campaign, they assert and evidence confirms, merges the new technology with proven techniques from the past, and their book helps candidates, students, and citizens consider all the opportunities and challenges that these tools provide—never losing sight of the critical role that personal contact plays in getting voters to the polls.