Democratic Efficacy and the Varieties of Populism in Europe (DEMOS)

Democratic Efficacy and the Varieties of Populism in Europe (DEMOS)

Funded by EU H2020

The DEMOS project attempts to address the populist challenge through the lens of democratic efficacy. The concept of democratic efficacy combines attitudinal features (political efficacy), democratic skills and democratic opportunity structures in building on the assumption that the expression of populism is a symptom of mismatch between how the democratic polity operates and how citizens conceive their own aspirations, needs and identities vis-à-vis the polity.

We assume that people are more prone to lean towards populism if they perceive their personal capacities and institutional opportunities to influence politics (i.e., their democratic efficacy) as being limited; that is, the costs of investing in reflective political engagement are perceived as being too high. DEMOS assumes that this situation cannot be blamed on one of the parties (that is, either the polity or the citizen) exclusively—it is the result of a complex interaction in which the features of the political system don’t match the aspirations and needs of the individual. The notion of democratic efficacy is designed to conceptually capture this interaction between the polity and the citizen. It also provides a practical starting point to elaborate and test proposals on how to increase personal capacities and institutional opportunities against the challenge of populism.

Applying the approach of democratic efficacy to examine coping strategies for populism is a novelty within the DEMOS project, building upon previous studies about political efficacy, political skills and opportunity structures.

Timeframe of the project: 01/12/2018 – 30/11/2021 (36 months)

Principal Investigator: Boda Zsolt

Participants from the Institute for Political Science: Bartha Attila, Bene Márton, Dobos Gábor, David Wineroither, Szabó Gabriella

The Institute for Legal Studies also participates in the research activity.

Our partners in the research consortium: University of Hamburg, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan,  Kaunas University of Technology, Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy, School of Communication and Media, University for Business Engineering and Management, Charles University, European Citizen Action Service, University of Turin, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Amsterdam, University of Copenhagen, University of Barcelona, Pantheon-Sorbonne University, Paris 1.