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Dear Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) user community,

We are extremely pleased to announce that Mark Andreas Kayser of the Hertie School of Governance and Michael Peress of the University of Rochester are the winners of the 2013 GESIS Klingemann Prize for the Best CSES Scholarship, for their paper “Benchmarking across Borders: Electoral Accountability and the Necessity of Comparison” that was published in 2012 in the American Political Science Review.

The Selection Committee, consisting of Professors Catherine de Vries, Dr. Markus Quandt, and Professor Nicolas Sauger, were very impressed by the quality of the nominations for this year’s GESIS Klingemann Prize. All contributions demonstrated a high level of scientific rigor and originality. That said, one contribution really stood out in these respects. The committee was unanimous in its decision to grant the article “Benchmarking across Borders: Electoral Accountability and the Necessity of Comparison” by Professors Marc Andreas Kayser and Michael Peress, the 2013 GESIS Klingemann Prize for the Best CSES Scholarship. The winning article represents a major contribution to the economic voting literature both in terms of theory and results. In addition, it moves the field forward in presenting a theoretical framework that allows for more consistent interpretation of existing work. By analyzing national economic performance and its impact on governmental electoral support, the authors hypothesize and empirically substantiate that voters are not completely myopic. Rather they form voting preferences on the basis of meaningful assessments of incumbent governments’ performance. In addition, by building on insights from the field of fiscal federalism, Kayser and Peress show that voters are able to compare economic performance across territories. Voters evaluate incumbent performance in terms of the degree to which national outcomes are better or worse than an international benchmark, and punish (or reward) incumbents accordingly. The effect of this benchmarking is strong and robust, and not confined to an elite of highly educated or informed voters, but mainly driven by the media. The idea, though simple, is original and thought-provoking while the empirical testing is rigorous and yet careful. Utilizing the full breadth of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems program data, and elegantly combining it with macro-economic data, the article presents a showcase of how to address important scientific puzzles concerning political behavior in a cross-national manner while effectively using the CSES data to the highest methodological standards. The article demonstrates once more how CSES data can contribute not only to scientific, but also to key societal, debates.

The CSES would like to thank this year’s Selection Committee, and express its appreciation for all of the nominations for this year’s prize. We would also like to thank the GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences for sponsoring the prize.

Citation: Kayser, Mark A. and Michael Peress (2012). “Benchmarking across Borders: Electoral Accountability and the Necessity of Comparison.” American Political Science Review 106(03): 661-684.

The GESIS Klingemann Prize for the Best CSES Scholarship is awarded for best CSES scholarship (paper, book, dissertation, or other scholarly work, broadly defined) published or finalized in the calendar year prior to the award. The prize is named in honor of Professor Doctor Hans-Dieter Klingemann, an internationally renowned political scientist, major contributor to comparative research, and co-founder of the CSES project.