Project of Claire Dupont (EDGE)

The Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe (EDGE) programme is a joint IES-Political Science department (VUB) strategic research programme. The main research themes of the programme cover political representation; political parties, elections and electoral behaviour; EU policy and decision-making; multi-level governance; and theoretical and normative reflections. The programme aims to analyse the major changes and challenges to democratic governance in Europe.

Key challenges for Democratic Governance in Europe include that political participation and decision making appear in a number of new forms and acquire new meanings and therefore increasingly challenge the format and the underlying normative canvas of modern democracy. The erosion of traditional class and religious cleavages, the reinforcement of territorial and identity politics, the increasing voter volatility, the rise of populist and Eurosceptic parties, the distrust of parties and more generally of the institutions of representative politics, the reality of migration and the need for effective immigration, the increasing pooling of powers at the level of the European Union (or the Euro zone), the enhanced transfer/delegation of authority to international institutions (uneven as it may be across different policy fields) as a feature of globalization are all developments that alter the conditions under which the democratic dialogue between citizens and public authorities is to be organized. Quite crucial in this respect is the fact that national and international politics increasingly overlap and interact. Under these changing circumstances, various elements and ways of participation and representation acquire a new meaning. The way in which political inputs reach the multiple centres of decision-making at multiple levels and the way in which these centres respond to societal demands are different for each policy domain and for different levels of decision-making. At the same time, societal demands also depend on the (perceived) performance of existing arrangements. The political community of the national state and its political centre of decision-making have been broken up, to some extent offering more potential channels of participation, representation and legitimation, but also at times making it more difficult to identify these channels or even blurring existing channels. 

At the IES, Dr Claire Dupont works directly under the EDGE programme, with her research on climate and energy governance in the EU and at multiple levels of democratic governance. Serena d'Agostino and Ferran Davesa's PhD projects are also directly affiliated with the EDGE programme. However, the EDGE programme involves all political science researchers at the IES and facilitates wider cross-cluster and cross-departmental cooperation, through joint IES-Political Science department events, seminars, working papers and publications.