Despite a “grilling” from examiners at his ‘viva voce' (Latin for ‘by live voice') or oral examination on 20 March, Stuart received the good news that his thesis had passed without recommendations for changes.
He will now be able to use the title ‘doctor’ and is set to take up a lectureship in political science at the University of Southampton.
Stuart, who studied in the Department of Political Economy, said: “My examiners definitely made me sweat during the grilling they gave me in the viva, so to come back in to hear that they'd recommend passing without any changes to thesis was an amazing feeling.
“I would like to have headed out to the pub afterwards but that'll have to wait until after the coronavirus lock down.”
Stuart’s thesis was focussed on assessing the impact of the EU’s economic intervention and fiscal monitoring programmes on political party competition and electoral behaviour post the 2008 financial crisis.
When the financial crisis hit, the EU experienced an expansion in its powers which meant it began to have an increasing effect on everyday lives, particularly amongst the citizens of the Eurozone states.
In his research, Stuart found that this level of intervention had negative effects on democracy in those states.
Stuart said: “Focusing on those states subjected to economic intervention, I showed that intervention reduced the choice parties offered to voters regarding EU integration, and the lack of choice afforded to voters had a regressive effect on political participation, particularly among voters who identify on the left.
“On the other hand, the effect of intervention in the financier states like Germany, is viewed as sparking the emergence of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Against popular assumptions regarding the contagious effect of euroscepticism, I showed that the rise of the AfD brought about by intervention actually led to an increase in europhilia amongst both mainstream parties and voters.”
Alongside his new teaching role, Stuart plans to continue his research on the role of intervention in shaping political behaviour in Western Europe.
He added: “I’d like to thank my two supervisors, Christel Koop and Rubén Ruiz-Rufino, but I’m also hugely indebted to everyone in the Quantitative Political Economy research cluster who’ve helped me out along the way. It really does take a village.”