During the last week of March and the first week of April, the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR) held its annual Joint Sessions at the University of Warsaw in Poland. On its website, ECPR rightfully describes these events as meetings as “one of the major highlights of the world's political science calendar”. This year's Joint Sessions featured 25 workshops, each closed gatherings of 15-20 participants.
For a week, a political and social scientists met to discuss a series of papers. The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) had the opportunity to participate in the workshop “What Citizens want from democracy: popular attitudes to existing political processes and their alternatives”, organized by Ben Seyd (University of Kent) and Asa von Schoultz (Abo Akademi). The organizers assembled eighteen high quality papers around four themes: citizens’ expectations from democracy; attitudes towards different models of democracy; the effects of democratic expectations and participation; and how citizens understand the existing political rules. The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) was represented by Dr. Ferran Martínez i Coma, who presented one of EIP's more recent works in progress: “What citizens want from elections: explaining the ‘election deficit’”, co-authored by Pippa Norris and Ferran Martínez i Coma. The paper builds on the ‘democratic deficit’ argument to focus on understanding European expectations and evaluations of elections, as the core institutions linking citizens and the state.
Participating in this workshop was a very valuable experience, as it is not every day we have the opportunity to receive feedback from peers working in the same area of research. Each paper was discussed for about an hour. Since the attendees came prepared and had read the materials, the quality and the depth of the feedback was outstanding. The paper was discussed by Marc Hooghe (University of Leuven). His comments, as well as those from other participants, will certainly improve the next iteration of the paper. Plus, this ECPR session in Warsaw offered the perfect environment to forge new connections and expand networks of likeminded thinkers.
After the Joint Sessions, EIP presented its work at the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Another fruitful meeting.