Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 1 - "Representative democracy in flux"

The Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 2.00 and 3.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.

The total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 9.00 million.

Research and Innovation Actions

Expected Outcome:

Projects should contribute to both of the following expected outcomes: 

- Comprehensive evidence on the mid- to long-term impacts of current political and social developments on European representative democracies.

- Develop policy recommendations, toolkits, narratives and methodologies for enhancing trust in political institutions, and boosting transparency, representativeness, and inclusiveness of representative systems at local, regional, national and EU level.


The last decades have witnessed significant changes in the electoral behaviour of citizens. Turnout has been steadily declining in most countries while European research and statistical data show that there is more electoral volatility, together with an increase in radicalisation of voter attitudes and greater polarisation. From 1994 to 2017 (according to Eurobarometer data 15 ) trust in parliaments, political parties and governments declined significantly. On the other hand, paradoxically, non-elected institutions (e.g. military, police, and judiciary) enjoyed high and relatively stable levels of trust, higher than the democratically elected ones. As societies have become more connected and individualistic, with an ever fastpaced development of digital technologies, new political forces, discourses and voting preferences have emerged. While many of the identities and certainties of the past are eroding, new cleavages have marked the political landscape of representative democracies. This apparent state of flux brings multiple challenges but also opportunities for the future of our democracies. Proposals are expected to address some of the following: to create a robust and comprehensive knowledge base on long-term developments in terms of trust in, and trustworthiness of, the political institutions of representative democracy – parties, executives, parliaments, judiciary, social partners, institutionalised social dialogue, etc. – and their legitimacy. Proposals should relate changing voting attitudes at the individual level to wider political and cultural discourses, where feelings and emotions can compete and overrule facts and reasons, and to the emergence of new social movements and parties. They should analyse key drivers of such changes, taking into consideration socio-economic variables (including transformation in the world of work), as well as cultural variables linked to identity, generational differences, gender, ethnic diversity, security, migration and the material forms of discourse such as education and media. The political cleavages that shape current political phenomena and trace their connection to historical legacies as well as their foreseeable negative and positive long-term impacts on democratic systems should be analysed. Based on the evidence collected and analysed, proposals should develop new approaches to understand the evolution of political parties in the context of intense digitalisation (including of the public space and public institutions) and individualism. They should examine the barriers and opportunities to re-invigorating and enhancing representative democratic systems. Strategies to address the demands and needs of citizens expressed in other, nonelectoral forms of political participation, with a view to active engagement and inclusion, including the use of digital tools for citizen engagement should be provided. Research should develop a comprehensive and transparent toolbox of possible policy interventions including but not limited to recommendations, toolkits and methodologies for enhancing trust in political institutions, boosting transparency, representativeness and inclusiveness of representative systems. In all cases, comparative approaches at EU level, taking also into consideration the changing demographic composition of populations, should be developed. The actions should strive to include citizens and civil society at all stages of the research activities, by means of consultation, structured dialogue, action research, social experimentation and/or other active methodologies that the proponents consider as most effective.

Application date
Social sciences : Law, Management and Public administration, Political science, Sociology