Representative democracies are currently challenged by an increasing decline of political satisfaction and trust. Many European governments have tested diverse democratic innovations with the aim of enhancing political contentment as well as increasing citizens’ understanding of political matters. However, do democratic innovations, for example direct democracy or deliberative procedures, fulfil the hopes? This question remains unanswered, because currently no comprehensive data pool, no theoretical framework, and no systematic evaluation of democratic innovations in Europe exist. The applying fellow, Brigitte Geissel, and the applying institution, the Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence “Democracy: A Citizen Perspective” at Åbo Akademi University (Finland), will address this gap and meet the demand of political scientists and politicians alike for valid expertise regarding the advantages and disadvantages of democratic innovations. The objectives of the research project are, in short, (1) to pool the theoretical and empirical knowledge on different innovations, (2) to develop a theoretical framework with criteria for the evaluation of democratic innovations, and (3) to explore the advantages and disadvantages of democratic innovations by secondary analysis in comparative perspective. The project will focus on democratic innovations in European states, with an emphasis on the Nordic countries, which are especially advanced in that field. The objectives of the applicant are to develop further professional, methodological and management skills, to establish international research networks, especially with the Nordic countries, and to open up as well as to establish a new research topic.
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