Meet a Lucerna Author: Sami Gul

My Lucerna project is about the relationship between far-right support and immigrant presence, education levels, and unemployment rates, which I studied by using the U.K. Electoral Commission data, French Interior Ministry Election data, the U.K. Census data and French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) data. I found that constituency areas with a higher percentage of immigrant population and people with high educational qualifications tend to have less support for far right-wing parties and candidates. However, a higher unemployment rate increases the support for far-right parties in a district.

Why are you interested in this topic?

The increased immigrant population across Europe in the last few years and the policies of European countries towards immigrants made me think about immigration in Europe. Moreover, during the last two decades, there has been a rise of support for extreme right-wing parties and candidates in Western European countries. Since these two incidents happened simultaneously, I became interested in this topic. Therefore, I examined the relationship between them.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

This project helps us understand when people are focused on the benefits of immigration and when they are focused on the costs of immigration. It also finds the interaction effect between the size of immigration and support for far-right wing parties. The challenge of this project was to find data that tells the exact numbers of immigrants in certain years. I had to estimate these numbers by using a formula. Also, it was challenging to figure out how people were defined as immigrants.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

You should not hesitate to start a project. After you start the project, instead of trying to finish it  all at once, you should make progress as time goes on. The University of Missouri–Kansas City has great faculty members, and you should ask your faculty advisor for help when you hit a problem. It is also good to have their feedback and comments on your project as you go.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I want to pursue a PhD program in political science. My research interests are primarily in the fields of methodology and political behavior, with a specific interest in elections and voting. In graduate school, I plan to use quantitative methods in order to both develop new methods and analyze political behavior. Ultimately, I want to come up with methods that improve election predictions in regions based on their demographic characteristics by using big time-series cross-district data. Then, I want to be an outstanding professor in the field of political methodology and political behavior.