Junk news aggregator aims to restore trust in media
and democracy
Bridging the gap between the EU and European youth
Civiciti: technology at the service of participative
An insight into young people’s democratic participation
across European cities
The Great Recession and political conflict in Europe
Politics, the art of the possible – but who chooses party
politics and who chooses protest, and why?
Young people are instigators of social change – so how
can they best be integrated into society?
The (failed?) promise of digital democracy
Why the answer to how to strengthen public trust in
elections is… SEEV
Civil society under growing state control?
Studies highlight latent conflict behind different
concepts of democratic equality
Understanding turbulent political times
through innovative EU-funded research
The 2019 European elections will possibly be viewed by future
historians as a landmark election for the EU due to the extraordinary
political context in which they’re taking place and the challenges to
democracy this involves. This is why innovative social sciences
research is vital in helping us understand the shiing patterns of
democratic participation in the 21st century. As such, this Results
Pack features 11 EU-funded projects that have been working to
help us better understand our complex political world and how
citizens view their continually shiing place within it.
2019 is a busy year for democratic elections – in Europe alone, aside from the
European Parliament elections, various national elections (local, regional, parlia-
mentary or presidential) will be taking place in at least 15 EU Member States.
Further afield outside the EU, elections have already taken place or are still
scheduled in Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Israel, South Africa,
Switzerland and Ukraine to name but a few. The United States will be, by the end of
2019, already gearing itself up for its 2020 showdown election between President
Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent. So, measured in terms of electoral
processes, democracy appears pretty robust and better than any alternative.
The challenges of the age
At the same time, especially since 2016 several elections and referenda have
been characterised by relatively unprecedented misrepresentation and ‘fake
news’ campaigns that undermine the notion of informed participation. More
generally, democratic politics has witnessed a surge of protest and so-called
‘populist’ politics that have redefined the political space in many democratic
countries and what it means to participate politically as a citizen. Some of the
roots of these political trends can be traced back to the late 2000s’ financial
and economic crisis which exacerbated inequality levels, drove many govern-
ments to pursue austerity policies, led to stagnant living standards and resulted
in a strong distrust by many citizens of the supposed ‘political elites’.
The role of new technologies in reshaping democratic participation in the
modern world is worth special attention. Social media has connected billions
of people in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago, allowing news
(including ‘fake’ stories), opinions and messages to spread worldwide in a
matter of minutes. Technology is even changing the mechanics of demo-
cratic participation, such as the introduction in many countries over recent
years of e-voting machines that have replaced the traditional pencil ballot,
the increasing popularity of ‘direct’ forms of democracy that could be facili-
tated through digital advances and engagement with social media platforms
concerning stronger checks on deceptive bots and the spread of fake news.
Innovative research for better understanding, outcomes
and policy
In such a turbulent political environment, it is essential that innovative social
sciences research can provide facts-based neutral analysis, devise innovative
solutions to improve democratic systems for the better, and assist in the formu-
lation of evidence-based policy. The EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, including
through the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Curie fellowships, is
thus fully supportive of nurturing Europe’s most gifted social scientists.
In this Results Packs dedicated to Elections and Democratic Participation, we
showcase 11 EU-funded projects that are contributing to a better understand-
ing of the factors and forces that are right now shaping the scope and future
direction of democratic participation.

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