Democratic Governance in a Turbulent Age: A Norface Research Programme

Democratic politics and governance in Europe are facing turbulent times. Party systems have crumbled or been substantially changed and so have citizen attachments to government, political parties and democratic procedures.

This sixth NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe) transnational programme on Democratic governance in a turbulent age offers a timely investigation of the precise nature of this recent turbulence, on how European states can negotiate it and develop strategies to enhance the quality of democratic politics and governance.

The projects started their work in 2020. The maximum budget per project is € 1.5 million. Read more about the different projects here.


This programme has three major objectives:

  • To develop innovative and excellent research proposals addressing important challenges to democratic governance and politics;
  • To produce added value through the development of European cross-national research collaborations exploring the impacts of variations in social, economic, cultural and political contexts on changes in how democracies work;
  • To identify promising forms of policy innovation and institutional design and explore the conditions for their application in different jurisdictions.


The programme is structured around five of the most important challenges to democratic governance and politics.

  1. Inequality and redistribution
  2. The evolving politics of threat
  3. The democratisation of information
  4. Shifting identities and representation
  5. The changing authority of institutions


The research projects will provide a new assessment of how the major challenges to democratic politics and governance have had an impact on social and political relationships in different countries, what accounts for the variation, how these challenges have been met and with what success.

The academic impact of the research will be the generation of new knowledge, insights and theoretical perspectives on relations between the state, political, social and economic institutions and citizens as well as on relations among different groups of citizens. The practical and policy impacts of the programme arise from the examination of the key variables and influences that shape the intensity and outcomes of these challenges, thus providing the basis for understanding the range of positive interventions and policies that might lead to greater democratic innovation.


The programme is funded by 16 NORFACE partners and the European Union:

  • Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
  • Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)
  • Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF)
  • Academy of Finland (AKA)
  • French National Research Agency (ANR)
  • German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • The Irish Research Council (IRC)
  • Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR)
  • Dutch Research Council (NWO)
  • The Research Council of Norway (RCN)
  • National Science Centre (NCN)
  • The Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS)
  • State Research Agency (AEI)
  • The Swedish Research Council (VR)
  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • UK Research and Innovation – Economic and Social Research Council (UKRI – ESRC)