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Making Democracy Function. An Empirical Analysis of the Effectiveness and the Legitimacy of New Forms of Democratic Linkage.

It is clear that traditional linkage mechanisms between citizens and the political system have eroded in recent decades. Processes of dealignment have resulted in lower party membership rates, lower electoral turnout, higher levels of electoral volatility while we also observe tendencies toward populist or extreme voting. Structural social changes toward more self-expressive values can be considered as the driving force behind these trends. While in the literature there is by now a consensus on the occurrence of these changes, political science does remain rather absent in the debate about how these structural trends could have an impact on the future stability of democratic political systems. While some authors lament the erosion of these traditional mechanisms, others are quite positive about the new value patterns that seem so prominent among especially young and highly educated groups of the population. The goal of the current project is to introduce solid empirical evidence into this debate: given the fact that we can correctly identify trends, what are the most likely consequences with regard to the functioning, the legitimacy and the stability of the political system? More specifically, we will investigate the effectiveness of different linkage mechanisms: the changing role of political parties, electoral dealignment, and the interplay between representative democracy and other more innovating forms of political participation, like deliberative and direct democracy. For each one of these mechanisms, we will rely on a combination of quantitative evidence and case-studies in order to understand how they contribute (or not) to a stable linkage between citizens and democratic political systems. The goal of the project is to assess how political systems can adapt to social change, and what this implies for both the functioning as well as the legitimacy of these democratic political systems.
Date:1 Oct 2017 →  Today
Disciplines:Other economics and business, Citizenship, immigration and political inequality, International and comparative politics, Multilevel governance, National politics, Political behaviour, Political organisations and institutions, Political theory and methodology, Public administration, Other political science