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ERC Consolidator GrantCure or Curse? Non-elected politics. Cure or Curse for the Crisis of Representative Democracy?

Units : Center for the Study of Politics | ULB590

Description :

Evidence of a growing disengagement of citizens from politics is multiplying. Electoral turnout reaches historically low levels.
Anti-establishment and populist parties are on the rise. Fewer and fewer Europeans trust their representative institutions. In
response, we have observed a multiplication of institutional reforms aimed at revitalizing representative democracy. Two in particular
stand out: the delegation of some political decision-making powers to (1) selected citizens and to (2) selected experts. But
there is a paradox in attempting to cure the crisis of representative democracy by introducing such reforms. In representative
democracy, control over political decision-making is vested in elected representatives. Delegating political decision-making to selected
experts/citizens is at odds with this definition. It empowers the non-elected. If these reforms show that politics could work
without elected officials, could we really expect that citizens' support for representative democracy would be boosted and that
citizens would re-engage with representative politics? In that sense, would it be a cure for the crisis of representative democracy, or
rather a curse? Our central hypothesis is that there is no universal and univocal healing (or harming) effect of non-elected
politics on support for representative democracy. In order to verify it, I propose to collect data across Europe on three elements: (1)
a detailed study of the preferences of Europeans on how democracy should work and on institutional reforms towards non-elected
politics, (2) a comprehensive inventory of all actual cases of empowerment of citizens and experts implemented across Europe since
2000, and (3) an analysis of the impact of exposure to non-elected politics on citizens' attitudes towards representative
democracy. An innovative combination of online survey experiments and of panel surveys will be used to answer this topical research
question with far-reaching societal implication. 

List of persons in charge :

  • PILET Jean-Benoît

List of lessors :

  • Fonds spéciaux de recherche