‘Illiberal Democrats’/ProConEU

Research question/goal: 

This project focuses on the origins and consequences of the rise of ‘illiberal democrats’: citizens with an allegiance to the abstract notion of democracy, who at the same time reject many key norms, institutions, and behaviours that have traditionally been regarded as necessary ingredients, or even the constitutional pillar of liberal democracy. The constitutional pillar comprises constitutional checks and balances, political equality, freedom of expression, and judicial protection of individual and minority rights. All of these are not only at the heart of liberal democracies, but they also constitute the core principles on which the European Union was founded. Increasing support for ‘illiberal democratic’ values and populist parties is therefore likely to undermine support for the EU. In this project, we examine the antecedents and consequences of ‘illiberal democratic’ attitudes as well as the link between such attitudes, party platforms, patterns of (social) media consumption, electoral behaviour, and support for the EU.

The aim of the project ‘Illiberal Democrats’ (ILLDEM) is to fill this gap in the literature by examining the antecedents, dimensions, and consequences of ‘illiberal democratic’ attitudes for the future of European democracies and European integration. Specifically, ILLDEM focuses on answering four research questions:

  1. What are the patterns and predictors of support for different components of liberal democracy across European countries?
  2. What is the role of (social) media in providing a forum for contents relating to illiberal attitudes
  3. What are the mechanisms that translate ‘illiberal democratic’ attitudes into electoral support for populist parties?
  4. What are the implications of the increasing support for ‘illiberal democratic’ parties for the support for European integration?
Current stage: 

The project has come to a close with the publication of three articles (one each in Politics, European Union Politics, and the Journal of Democracy) and of the full European Election Study 2019 (including the variables that had previously been embargoed).

The associated project ProConEU started in 2021. The project team has developed publication plans and submitted proposals for presentation at conferences in 2022. An online stakeholder conference and an online workshop on the benefits of and approach to stacked data matrices were held in May and June, respectively. Besides developing a project website, we started the coding of the 2019 manifestos in October, following a thorough review of the Euromanifesto database codebook, and the human coding of social media data in the run-up to the 2019 EP election in November. In December, we convened a video conference to take stock of the project and present preliminary versions of the conference papers for 2022.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
BMBF
Duration: 
2018 to 2023
Status: 
ongoing
Data Sources: 
nationally representative cross-sectional surveys, party manifesto content analyses, and social media communication
Geographic Space: 
EU

Publications