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Rick van Well wins Thesis Prize 2018 Research Master Political Science and Public Administration

Rick van Well has won the 2018 Thesis Prize of the research master’s programme Political Science and Public Administration. Offering an insight into the hiatus of the literature on government-parliament relations, as well conducting an extensive empirical study on the working of local councils, Van Well has made an ‘important contribution to the field’.

In his thesis Explaining Modes of Executive Legislative Relations; Empirical Evidence from Dutch Local Councils, Van Well addresses two themes. First, he concludes that the literature examining the relation between government and parliament is ‘stuck in description’ and fails to explain observed differences. To study the effects of such factors as coalition and coalition agreements (regeerakkoord), and to control for institutional context, Rick focuses on the local rather than the national level.

Second, he makes a contribution to the knowledge about local politics in the Netherlands after the so-called dualiseringsoperatie. Van Well conducted a survey: 249 former local council members participated in 25 randomly selected towns. The conclusion is that the character of the coalition (minimum-winning or not) and the stability of the election results determine whether tensions emerge between coalition and opposition or between local executive and council.

The jury, consisting of Arjen Boin and Frits Meijerink, was impressed by the ‘clearly written’ thesis. According to their report, ‘the theoretical discussion is mature and the empirical research meticulous’. Rudy Andeweg served as thesis advisor; Peter Castenmiller was the second reader.

Van Well’s work was one of the 9 theses considered. These received high grades and were nominated by various thesis advisors. The jury selected one winner from the Research Master theses and one from the regular students’ theses.

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