Hot politics Lab: Topics



Politicians communicate their policy positions, but also stories about their personal lives and their perspective on the world. In doing so, what will they say and how they will say it? How much emotion will they put in their words? How complicated will they make their sentences? By doing this politicians reveal something of their personality. In the Hot Politics Lab, we analyze all preceding questions, and aim to develop a model

that predicts what politicians will say (topic, position) and how they will say this. Are politicians strategic and will they tailor their messages to public opinion, or are politicians unable to adapt, and does personality explain their communication? We will find out.

You will find some of our preliminary findings in the publications, working papers and blogs mentioned below.

work in progress

Applications of automated text analysis measuring topics, ideology, sentiment or even personality are booming in fields like political science and political psychology. These developments are to be applauded as they bring about novel insights about politics using new sources of (unstructured) data. However, a divide exists between work in both disciplines using text as data. In this paper we argue in favor of more integration across disciplinary boundaries, structuring our case around four key issues in the research process: (i) sampling text; (ii) authorship as meta data; (iii) pre- processing text; (iv) analyzing text. Along the way we demonstrate that an assessment of speaker characteristics may crucially depend on the text sources under study, and that the use of senti- ment words correlates with estimates of policy positions, with implications for interpretation of the latter. As such, this paper contributes to a critical discussion about the merits of automated text analysis methods in political psychology and political science, with an eye towards advancing the considerable potential of text as data in the study of politics.

There is some evidence that liberal politicians use more complex language than conservative politicians. This evidence, however, is based on a specific set of speeches of US Congress members and UK members of Parliament. This raises the question whether the relationship between ideology and linguistic complexity is a more general phenomenon or specific to this small group of politicians. To address this question, this paper analyzes 381,609 speeches from five parliaments, from twelve European prime ministers, and from party congresses across time and across countries. Our results replicate and generalize these earlier findings: speakers from culturally liberal parties use more complex language than speakers from culturally conservative parties. Economic left-right differences, on the other hand, are not systematically linked to linguistic complexity.


PDF  Pdf version    Appendix  Appendix    Blog  Blog    Replication Materials  Replication Materials

Citation Additional Material
Denise Traber, Martijn Schoonvelde & Gijs Schumacher (in-press). Errors have been made, others will be blamed. Issue engagement and blame shifting in Prime Minister speeches during the economic crisis in Europe. European Journal of Political Research
Rooduijn, Matthijs (2019) How to study populism and adjacent topics? A plea for both more and less focus. European Journal of Political Research 58: 362-372.
Martijn Schoonvelde, Anna Brosius, Gijs Schumacher & Bert Bakker (2019). Liberals Lecture, Conservatives Communicate: analyzing complexity and ideology in 381,475 speeches. PLoS One , 14, 2, e0208450 Blog
Citation Additional Material
De Vries, E., Schoonvelde, M., & Schumacher, G. (2018). No Longer Lost in Translation: Evidence that Google Translate Works for Comparative Bag-of-Words Text Applications. Political Analysis, 26(4), 417-430. PDF
Gijs Schumacher & Christian Elmelund-Præstekær (2018). Party performance explains disagreement between politicians and their parties. West European Politics, 41, 2. PDF Appendix
Roni Lehrer & Gijs Schumacher (2018). Governator vs. Hunter and Aggregator: A Simulation of Party Competition with Vote-Seeking and Office-Seeking Rules. PLOS ONE, 13(2): e0191649. PDF Replication Materials
Gijs Schumacher & Nathalie Giger (2017). Do leadership-dominated parties change more? Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties. PDF Replication Materials
Mariken van der Velden, Gijs Schumacher & Barbara Vis (2017). Living in the Past or Living in the Future? Analyzing Parties’ Platform Change In Between Elections,The Netherlands 1997–2014. Political Communication. PDF
Jonathan Polk, Jan Rovny, Ryan Bakker, Erica Edwards, Liesbet Hooghe, Seth Jolly, Jelle Koedam, Filip Kostelka, Gary Marks, Gijs Schumacher, Marco Steenbergen, Milada Vachudova, Marko Zilovic (2017). Explaining the Salience of Anti-Elitism and Reducing Political Corruption for Political Parties in Europe with the 2014 Chapel Hill Expert Survey Data. Research & Politics 4, 1. PDF Blog
Gijs Schumacher & Nathalie Giger (2017). Who Leads the Party? On Membership Size, Selectorates and Party Oligarchy. Political Studies, 65:(1_suppl). PDF Replication Materials
Gijs Schumacher & Kees van Kersbergen (2016). Do mainstream parties adapt to the welfare chauvinism of populist parties? Party Politics, 22, 3. PDF
Gijs Schumacher, Marc van de Wardt, Barbara Vis & Michael Baggesen Klitgaard (2015). How Aspiration to Office Conditions the Impact of Government Participation on Party Platform Change. American Journal of Political Science, 59, 4. PDF Appendix Replication Materials Blog
Gijs Schumacher (2015). When does the Left do the Right thing? A study of party position change on welfare policies. Party Politics, 21, 1. PDF Appendix Replication Materials
Christian Elmelund-Præstekær & Gijs Schumacher (2014). Én for alle og alle for én? Mønstre i og effekter af partiintern uenighed blandt folketingskandidaterne ved 2011-valget. Politica, 46, 3. PDF Replication Materials
Rooduijn, Matthijs, Sarah L. de Lange & Wouter van der Brug (2014) A Populist Zeitgeist? Programmatic Contagion by Populist Parties in Western Europe. Party Politics 20(4): 5633-575.
Gijs Schumacher, Catherine de Vries & Barbara Vis (2013). Why do Parties change Position? Party organization and environmental incentives. Journal of Politics, 75, 2. PDF Appendix Replication Materials Blog

chapters, data & other




Gijs Schumacher, Martijn Schoonvelde, Denise Traber, Tanushree Dahiya, and Erik de Vries (2016). EUSpeech: A New Dataset of EU Elite Speeches. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the Advances in Computational Analysis of Political Text (PolText 2016), Dubrovnik, 75–80.



Gijs Schumacher, Martijn Schoonvelde, Tanushree Dahiya, and Erik de Vries. (2016). EUSpeech. A Dataset of EU Elite Speeches 2007-2015. Version 2.0.

Replication Materials