14 projects funded in transnational programme Democratic Governance in a Turbulent Age


Grants Governance programme within NORFACE

Fourteen transnational and multi-disciplinary social science research consortia have received funding from the European NORFACE network within the research programme ‘Democratic governance in a turbulent age’. Over the next few years they will focus, on subjects such as disruptive changes in the political landscape, polarisation and populism, (European) identities, and the legitimacy of the administrative state. 

Democratic politics and governance in Europe are facing turbulent times. With the “Democratic governance in a turbulent age”(acronym: Governance) research programme, NORFACE offers a timely investigation of the precise nature of the turbulence, but also of how European states can negotiate this turbulence and develop strategies to enhance the quality of democratic politics and governance. This programme has three major objectives: to develop innovative and excellent research proposals addressing important challenges to democratic governance and politics; to produce added value through the development of European cross-national research collaborations exploring the impacts of variations in social, economic, cultural and political contexts on changes in how democracies work; to identify promising forms of policy innovation and institutional design and explore the conditions for their application in different jurisdictions.

After a joint Call for Proposals, which was launched in December 2018 and followed by an Outline Proposal and Full Proposal stage for which applications could be submitted, fourteen transnational research projects were selected for funding. A total of 57 Principal Investigators are involved in these projects, from across Europe. In addition, many other scholars, including young researchers, and stakeholder organisations are engaged in the projects.

The Governance programme is supported by twenty-one funding organisations from nineteen European countries. The programme also receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 822166. In total, a budget of 17.8 million Euros has been made available for the fourteen transnational research projects.

Funded projects

The call ‘Democratic governance in a turbulent age’ has resulted in the following fourteen proposals elected for funding.

Extreme Identities: A Linguistic and Visual Analysis of European Far-Right Online Communities’ Politics of Identity (ExId)

Project Leader: Dr S. Baele, University of Exeter (UK)
Principal Investigator: Dr N. Doerr, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Principal Investigator: Dr C.. Boussalis, Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)

The ExId project offers an analysis of the European far-right online landscape, combining computational methods with in-depth qualitative analysis, it will offer a dynamic analysis of both the evolution of the European far-right online landscape, and its linguistic and visual content, exploring phenomena such as the impact of real-world events on websites’ content or circulation of linguistic/visual tropes across groups.

INformation in the EU’s DIgitalised GOvernance (INDIGO)

Project Leader: Professor H. Hofmann, University of Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
Principal Investigator: Professor F. Boehm, FIZ Karlsruhe (Germany)
Principal Investigator: Professor O. Mir, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain)
Principal Investigator: Professor J.P. Schneider, University of Freiburg (Germany)
Principal Investigator: Professor P. Leino-Sandberg, University of Helsinki (Finland)

INDIGO focuses on the future of democratic governance in Europe and the relation between the individual and the public sphere. The project addresses the impact of digitalisation of the multi-jurisdictional implementation of policies in Europe, through joint information systems and the use of advanced machine learning systems.


How Technological Change Reshapes Politics: Technology, Elections, and Policies (TECHNO)

Project Leader: Dr. H. Finseraas, Institute for Social Research (Norway)
Principal Investigator: Dr A. Kuo, University of Oxford (UK)
Principal Investigator: Dr A. Gallego, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (Spain)
Principal Investigator: Professor S. Häusermann, University of Zurich (Switzerland)

TECHNO addresses political consequences of rapid technological progress and explores how technological change in the workplace contributes to ongoing deep political transformations, the adoption of policies to address change, and the political consequences of such policies. The project should also result in recommendations of politically viable and effective policies to help workers and communities adapt to a fast-changing economic landscape and increased insecurity.


The Rural-Urban Divide in Europe (RUDE)

Project Leader: Professor S. Rossteutscher, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main (Germany)
Principal Investigator: Professor S. Zmerli, Université Grenoble Alpes (France)
Principal Investigator: Dr G. Rico, Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain)
Principal Investigator: Dr C. Claassen, University of Glasgow (UK)
Principal Investigator: Professor M. Freitag, Universität Bern (Switzerland)

The project examines whether and how urban-rural residency is related to divides in legitimacy beliefs, social identities, perceptions of injustice and threat, political and social attitudes and political behavior of European citizens. It deals with shifting identities and their consequences for democratic governance and political representation and also examines the role of globalization.


Separation of powers for 21st century Europe (SepaRope)

Project Leader: Professor C. Eckes, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
Principal Investigator: Dr A. Wallerman, University of Gothernburg (Sweden)
Principal Investigator: Professor P. Leino-Sandberg, University of Helsinki (Finland)

SepaRope is an empirically-grounded and comparative project that addresses the theory and practices of separation of powers in the present-day European Union. The project demonstrates how recent economic and political developments affect the EU’s institutional framework and the anchoring of EU decision-making in national legitimacy by combining conceptual analysis and empirical research.


Qualify Unification in Europe for Shifting Trust (QUEST): a comparative research on Muslims responses to the politics of threat in France, UK, Spain and Norway

Project Leader: Dr. Alexandra Poli, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (France)
Principal Investigator: Dr A. Ma Cea D’Ancona, Complutense University of Madrid (Spain)
Principal Investigator: Dr A. Hussain, University of Manchester (UK)
Principal Investigator: Dr V. Vestel, Oslo Metropolitan University (Norway)

This project addresses the emerging politics of threat and shifting identities and representations in relation to the presence of Muslims in European public spheres. The project will make use of an ethnographic approach that involves mapping cultural production and activism through extended engagement with Muslims in urban settings, and with a special focus on youth and gender.


Populist Backlash, Democratic Backsliding, and the Crisis of the Rule of Law in the European Union (POPBACK)

Project Leader: Dr G. Schnyder, Loughborough University (UK)
Principal Investigator: Dr D. Sallai, London School of Economics (UK)
Principal Investigator: Professor B. Blaszczyk, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland)
Principal Investigator: Professor B. Sauer, University of Vienna (Austria)
Principal Investigator: Dr M. Pajnik, Peace Institute (Slovenia)
Principal Investigator: Professor S. Deakin, University of Cambridge (UK)
Principal Investigator: Professor A. Nölke, Goethe Universität Frankfurt (Germany)

The POPBACK project aims to inform strategies to increase democratic resilience by studying the mechanisms ‘exclusionary populists’ use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law in the areas of law, the economy, and the media. The project also seeks to identify the ‘coping strategies’ societal actors use when faced with exclusionary populism.


Democratic Governance of Funded Pension Schemes (DEEPEN)

Project Leader: Professor K.M. Anderson, University College Dublin (Ireland)
Principal Investigator: Dr T. Wiss, Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (Austria)
Principal Investigator: Dr N.A.J. van der Zwan, Leiden University (the Netherlands)
Principal Investigator: Professor J.J. Fernández, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)

DEEPEN explores the democratic governance of capital-funded occupational pension schemes and investigates how governments, regulators and labour market actors govern funded pensions and whether participants are satisfied with pension fund performance. The project combines quantitative analysis of survey data with comparative case studies based on elite and expert interviews and analysis of primary and secondary documents.


EUINACTION: Willingness and Capacity for EU Policy Action in Times of Crises: Conflicts, Positions and Outcomes (EUINACTION)

Project Leader: Dr. Nikoleta Yordanova, Leiden University (the Netherlands)
Principal Investigator: Professor G. Glavas, Universität Mannheim (Germany)
Principal Investigator: Dr Z.G. Greene, Universit of Strathclyde (UK)

EUINACTION seeks to explain willingness and capacity for EU integration in specific policy areas by studying the conditions under which the EU institutions seek to increase or decrease EU policy competencies, when their positions respond to public demands across and within member states, and under which conditions each institution manages to assert its position in the policy-making processes.


Data-driven campaigns: intended and unintended consequences for democracy (DATADRIVEN)

Project Leader: Dr S. Kruikemeier, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
Principal Investigator: Dr K. Dommett, University of Sheffield (UK)
Principal Investigator: Professor R. Gibson, University of Manchester (UK)
Principal Investigator: Dr S.K. Lecheler, University of Vienna (Austria)

This project addresses data-driven political campaigns and focuses both the intended and unintended consequences of data-driven targeting and digital persuasion. The study will focus on micro (consequences for citizens), meso (consequences for political elites), and macro (consequences for democracy) level effects.


The Threats and Potentials of a Changing Political Information Environment (THREATPIE)

Project Leader: Prof. dr. D. N. Hopmann, University of Southern Denmark (Denmark)
Principal Investigator: Professor C.H. de Vreese, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
Principal Investigator: Professor P. Van Aelst, Universiteit Antwerpen (Belgium)
Principal Investigator: Professor C. Schemer, Johannes Gutenberg University (Germany)
Principal Investigator: Professor J. Stanyer, Loughborough University (UK)
Principal Investigator: Professor A.S. Cardenal, Fundació per a la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain)
Principal Investigator: Professor A. Stepinska, Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland)
Principal Investigator: Dr K. Koc-Michlska, Audencia Business School (France)

This project examines how the current changes in the political information environments in European democracies affect the conditions for a healthy democracy. This is done through a series of comparative, innovatively designed studies, including web tracking, comparative surveys, focus groups and survey-embedded experiments in 14 European countries and the US.


CrimScapes: Navigating citizenship through European landscapes of criminalisation

Project Leader: Professor Dr. B. Binder, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Germany)
Principal Investigator: Dr M. Darley, Université Paris Saclay (France)
Principal Investigator: Dr S. Sariola. University of Helsinki (Finland)
Principal Investigator: Dr A. Dziuban, Jagiellonian University (Poland)

The CrimScapes project explores the expanding application of criminal law, crime control measures, and imaginaries of (il)legality, and how these both respond to as well as produce the politics of threat and uncertainty currently expanding across the European region. The project employs secondary literature, as well as ethnographic field work to conceptualize the strategies, relations, and citizenship dynamics of the implicated actors.


Threat, identity, and dissent: Understanding and addressing political polarization in European democracies (UNDPOLAR)

Project Leader: Dr T. Kuppens, University of Groningen (the Netherlands)
Principal Investigator: Dr M.J. Easterbrook, University of Sussex (UK)
Principal Investigator: Dr R. Rodriguez-Bailon, Universidad de Granada (Spain)
Principal Investigator: Professor C. Darnon, University of Clermont-Ferrand (France)
Principal Investigator: Dr M. Marchlewska, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland)
Principal Investigator: Dr M.J. Brandt, Tilburg University (the Netherlands)
Principal Investigator: Dr D. Caluwaerts, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium)

This project aims to determine how identities and threat combine to generate multiple polarized attitudes, and compares subpopulations of belief systems across countries and over time. Correlational class analysis and experiments that test causal effects of identities and threats are used to further explore this and help to not only understand, but to also identify solutions to overcome polarization.


Reconnecting citizens to the administrative state? (ReConnect)

Project Leader: Professor M.C.E. Lodge, London School of Economics and Political Science (UK)
Principal Investigator: Dr N. Sitter, Norwegian Business School (Norway)
Principal Investigator: Dr C. Koop, University of London (UK)
Principal Investigator: Professor J. Jordana, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (Spain)
Principal Investigator: Dr C.H.J.M Braun, Leiden University (the Netherlands)

This study covers how changes in the political environment, public sector reform, and changing citizen demands have led to calls for more responsive administrative state institutions, and explores how the administrative state has sought to become more responsive to citizens and politicians. The ReConnect project approaches ‘the administrative state’ from the dimensions of the constitutional, regulatory, enabling, consumer-protecting, and consulting administrative state.



NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe) is a partnership of national research funding agencies from twenty European countries focusing on the field of social and behavioural sciences. Since its inception in 2004, NORFACE provides joint funding facilities, supports existing networks and encourages the formation of new networks.