European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC): 'European Electoral Studies Infrastructure (EES-I)'
The quality of democracy in the European Union is constantly being questioned, generally with very little supporting evidence. Those who would defend the functioning of democratic institutions in the EU are equally short of supporting evidence. Assessments of the way democracy works in the EU and suggestions for improvements are only possible on the basis of audits of the quality of electoral democracy at the time of European Parliament (EP) elections. Such assessments have so far been conducted only in an ad hoc fashion, with precarious funding that has hindered full assessments on all occasions – indeed the 2009 study (see below) is so far the only one to have made possible a full accounting. To stop with that study would be to open the way to renewed criticisms that the EU does not care about its democratic credentials. The EU needs a long-term commitment to funding successive EP election studies that monitor progress towards a more responsive and responsible electoral democracy at the EU level.
When this project was initiated, the intention was to create an infrastructure able to secure funding for multiple future waves of EESs. While the infrastructural plans failed so far, the most immediate study – EES 2014 – is currently being realized. Funding for the post-electoral Voter Survey (face-to-face in 28 countries) has been secured, and a questionnaire has been developed in partnership with the European Parliament (a panel component is also planned). The Euromanifesto component of the study has been proposed to Thyssen Foundation (in co-operation with GSI Munich). A social media communication study is currently being prepared (with MZES conference support).