Researcher in Focus: Dr Jonathan Arlow

Posted on: 12 April 2024 by Dr Jonathan Arlow in 2024 Posts

Jonathan Arlow
Dr Jonathan Arlow

Dr Jonathan Arlow is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool. His current research project is a comparative evaluation of Sinn Féin as an all-island party since the Great Recession.

Listen to Jonathan talk about his work in more detail in our 'Researcher in Focus' podcast:

Prior to joining Liverpool in September 2023, Dr Arlow worked as a teaching fellow in Dublin City University, where he completed his PhD in 2022.  

Jonathan writes:

I research comparative politics, with a special focus on Irish and British politics. I am interested in how radical political movements interact with the institutions of liberal democratic states.

My PhD thesis explored the influence of the libertarian movement on mainstream right-wing party policy change within Europe. I have also researched and published on the Antifa’s role in combating the electoral ambitions of the extreme right. In addition to this main research agenda, I research and publish on youth unemployment policy and the ‘revolving door’ in Irish politics. I also act as a country coordinator for the Political Party Database Project, a multi-country collaborative effort to advance the study of party-based representative democracy. 

Marie Curie Research Fellowship

My current postdoctoral research examines Sinn Féin’s evolution into a party that is electorally competitive both sides of the Irish border since the Great Recession. This two-year project compares Sinn Féin’s operations in the North to the South and contrasts its unusual all-island position (one party, two jurisdictions) to other anti-systemic European parties of the left.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) postdoctoral fellowships are funded by Horizon Europe and provide early career scholars with the opportunity to carry out their research activities abroad, acquire new skills, and develop their careers by acting as principal investigators on innovative projects.

The University of Liverpool was a natural base for this project due its history of producing groundbreaking research on Irish politics, European studies, and radical political parties. Also, Professor Jon Tonge’s mentorship of this project and his experience on Northern Irish politics helps to support this all-island study.       

Comparing Sinn Féin, North and South

My project is still in the early stages of data collection and analysis. However, the first article from the project is currently under review. It asks how – and to what extent – Sinn Féin’s policy preferences differ between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?  This article draws on new datasets that have coded party manifestos (North and South) based on the Comparative Agendas Project coding scheme (see:

This article is the first case study to use quantitative datasets to compare Sinn Féin’s policy positions between North and South. It finds that Sinn Féin in the North tends to prioritise the representation of nationalist concerns linked to governance and the smooth running of the power-sharing Executive, while Sinn Féin in the South focuses on more typical social democratic issues. But when nationalist interests are secure in Northern Ireland, then Sinn Féin’s policy focus shifts to bread-and-butter issues that resemble its policy preferences in the South. While Sinn Féin adapts its policy offerings to cater to the concerns of voters, North and South, it consistently embraces a social democratic policy agenda, combined with more radical left-wing populist rhetoric. Importantly, all its policies preferences are framed through the overriding goal of achieving Irish reunification. 

My future research from this project will focus on Sinn Féin’s evolving all-island electoral strategies, its intra-party democracy, and examine its similarities to radical left parties in Europe.

Dr Jonathan Arlow's staff page

Keywords: Researcher in Focus.