Research project

POLCON - Political Conflict in Europe in the Shadow of the Great Recession

POLCON assessed the development of European democracies and the politicisation of European integration in the shadow of the Great Recession, from Autumn 2008. The project links the study of elections to the study of political protests in Western, Southern, Central and East European countries.

This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC)

This project has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement n° 338875

POLCON proposes to study the contemporary development of political conflict in European democracies and the politicization of the European integration process in the shadow of the Great Recession. Since the world has entered the economic crisis in fall 2008, commentators have been afraid of its political repercussions. POLCON is based on a comparative analysis of political mobilization in national elections, the protest arena and in public interactions between political authorities and challengers on key issues related to the crisis. The key question is whether the Great Recession and its consequences are changing the long-term trends in the development of political conflict in Europe, and whether the resulting political conflicts constitute a danger for democracy in Europe. The project proposes a combination of a comparative-static and a dynamic analysis of political conflict across Europe. It innovates both theoretically and empirically. Theoretically it is original because it links the study of elections to the study of political protest, and because it takes seriously the often heard call for dynamic and process-oriented analyses. Empirically, it innovates by extending the scope of our previous work in both time (comparing the period before and after 2008) and space (comparing Western, Southern as well as Central and Eastern European countries), by proposing a new type of unit of analysis, which allows to focus on chains of events taking place in different arenas rather than simply analyzing individual events, and by developing new semi-automated tools for media content analyses. Under the conditions of the crisis, but depending on the national context characteristics, we expect populist challengers to flourish. They may not only contribute to a renaissance of nationalism and a tighter coupling of electoral and protest politics, but eventually to a fundamental restructuring of the national political conflict structures in Europe.

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