MSU PLS PhD student Nikolaos Frantzeskakis wins Rhode Fellowship and Best Paper Award

May 31, 2022 - Karessa Weir

Nikolaos Frantzeskakis has been named this first recipient of the Rhode Fellowship, endowed in memory of Dr. William Rhode, the first person to receive a political science PhD from MSU.

Nikolaos FrantzeskakisHe also has earned the Best Paper Award for 2022 for his work ""Putting Parliamentarians Back in Parliament: Fairer Elections and MPs as Representatives." 

 As stated by Dr. Michael Wahman, "The paper, in my opinion, represents the very best of comparative politics scholarship produced by our students."  In the paper, Frantzeskakis argues that fairer elections will lead to increased levels of accountability. This in turn will encourage MPs to be more active and engaged in parliamentary debates, and to be better representatives overall.

"Empirical analysis of experimental data shows that this is indeed the case. These findings go against much of the existing literature, which focuses on resource transfers and considers parliamentary behavior as of minimum consequence. This has important implications for the kinds of electoral reforms that could improve the state of democracy in the region," Frantzeskakis said.

The Rhode Fellowship provides funding for Frantzeskakis to continue collecting data for his dissertation on the electoral success for members of Parliament (MPs) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"I argue that parliamentary representation is an important and overlooked determinant of future support at the polls in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, I pose that the decision to prioritize representation depends on whether MPs rely on the party label for reelection," he said. "This work has important implications for our understanding of democratic consolidation in the continent."

Frantzeskakis is grateful for both awards and appreciates the support of the department and the Rhode family.

"First of all, I feel humbled to have received these awards. I cannot claim any credit without recognizing the vast impact that my advisors and mentors have had on me. Their help, support, and feedback have been invaluable in developing my research, but they also help me develop as a person and shape me as a scholar. And that is only part of the support that I received from the Department of Political Science, that has invested in me and supported me in all possible ways at every turn of the road. Receiving these awards also gives me hope. I wanted to become a political scientist to help identify and address problems in our political systems so that we can live in a better world. This is a dream as lofty as any. However, when my efforts are validated in such a way, I cannot help but hope that in my limited way I might be able to make a positive contribution towards change."