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EUDEMOS: Constrained Democracy: Citizens’ Responses to Limited Political Choice in the European Union

Principal Investigator: Professor Sara Hobolt

Postdoctoral Researchers: Dr Sebastian Barfort, Dr Julian Hoerner and Dr Toni Rodon

This ERC-funded project examines the impact of political choice on citizens' political behaviour and attitudes.

National governments in Europe operate under the growing constraints of European integration that limit the choices they can offer citizens and the policy instruments they can use. Yet, despite the centrality of political choice to the functioning of electoral democracy, we know very little about the consequences of constrained political choices for citizens’ engagement in democratic processes. Across Europe, an increasing number of citizens are supporting extreme parties or declining to take part in democratic elections. This project offers a systematic examination of how the range and substance of political choices offered to citizens in the EU shape democratic perceptions and electoral behaviour. It combines a large-N cross-national analysis of citizens’ responses to mainstream party convergence and case studies of the ‘emergency politics’ of the Eurozone crisis with micro-level experimental work. This project will contribute to the study of citizens’ democratic attitudes and behaviour by focusing on the importance of political choice. By developing and testing a theoretical model of heterogeneous citizen responses to the constrained political choice, the project provides insights into why citizens turn against mainstream parties or exit democratic process altogether.

Please contact Professor Sara Hobolt ( if you would like more information about the position or the project.