Research Section

One of the major goals of the c2d is to promote research on direct democracy in a pluridisciplinary perspective. The collaborators of c2d contribute to this task with their masters and doctoral theses, by participating in national as well as international research programs.

Summary

The Implementation of Successful Citizens' Initiatives - 2014-2017

Since the introduction of the citizens' initiative at the federal level in 1891 only 22 have been adopted by the people and cantons. Between 1949 and 1982 not a single citizens' initiative received a majority vote. Until the turn of the century, the adoption of a citizens' initiative was considered an exception. Research has thus focused primarily on the indirect effects of initiatives on the legal and political system. In the meantime, the situation has changed. Beginning in the 1990s, there has been an increase in successful citizens' initiatives. Between 2008 and 2013 one initiative was approved per year, with the exception of the election year 2011, while two have already been approved in 2014.

Most of the recently approved initiatives caused legal problems during their implementation phase, and it is this area that requires in-depth research. Particularly problematic is the initiative's compatibility with international law as well as the protection of constitutional rights and legal principles. The text of the initiative is frequently not precise enough from a legal point of view. Furthermore, initiators commonly voice their disappointment and frustration about the slow and inadequate implementation. In respect of the expulsion initiative, a so-called enforcement initiative, to ensure that the expulsion initiative is implemented into the constitution correctly, has already collected enough signatures to trigger a vote.

The goal of the project is an overarching systematisation of the implementation of successful citizens' initiatives at the federal and cantonal level.

SNF No 10001A-156132 (Die Umsetzung erfolgreicher Volksinitiativen in Rechtsetzung, Rechtsanwendung und Rechtsprechung)


People Involved:

Prof. Andreas Glaser


Partners & Sponsors:

SNF No 10001A-156132 (Die Umsetzung erfolgreicher Volksinitiativen in Rechtsetzung, Rechtsanwendung und Rechtsprechung)


Democratic Innovation - Learning from the Latin American Experience - 2014-2017

For the coming three years we plan to continue to function as a bridge-building organization between Latin America and Europe and work on the following two projects:

Political parties' attitudes towards direct democracy and digital media
According to several surveys, Latin American political parties and parliaments are the institutions most affected by the crisis of representative democracy. But at the same time a majority of the population thinks that democracy is not possible without these institutions3. The lack of confidence in the institutions of representative democracy is not only a particularity of Latin America, but a documented problem in consolidated Western democracies. In this context, several scholars have stressed that ICTs present an opportunity to politicians and political organisations to improve their contact with the citizens by offering tools to establish more and better links between representatives and the represented. Our study seeks to follow political parties' attitudes toward the new institutions of direct and participatory democracy. It will be observed through party programs, votes and formal positions towards the inclusion of participatory devices, as well as interviews with party leaders. The research will shed light on a topic rather ignored by the literature and will thereby contribute to the public debate in Latin America.

 

Promoting or eroding democracy? Civil Society Organizations between institutions, digital media and the streets
An active civil society is key to building democracy, but at the same time if 'breakthroughs' by civil society are not followed by fundamental changes in socio-economic structures, then society merely enters a new cycle associated with ever-increasing disenchantment with politics. In a best-case scenario, civil society organizations can force open the political system and re-establish a link between representatives and those who are represented. Behind the social protests that quite often catch the attention of mass media in Latin America, societal organizations with the capacity to engage in –and sustain over time– the politics of protest are becoming increasingly important. By analyzing political campaigns launched by civil society in a bid to influence national policy-making in concrete critical situations, this project seeks to examine the extent to which the prevalent patterns of civic and political involvement are changing and under what conditions the new (legal) institutions of participation are effective tools for citizens' intervention. The preselected case studies are: (a) Urban protests in Brazil 2013; (b) Initiative against oil extraction in Yasuni (Ecuador); (c) Initiative against building a road through Tipnis (Bolivia).


People Involved:

Yanina Welp, Jonathan Wheatley and Uwe Serdült


Partners & Sponsors:

Avina Stiftung


Links:

See also: www.dd-la.ch


Strengthening Direct Democracy Legal Instruments through Bulgarian-Swiss Partnership - 2014-2015

Based on the wide-ranging and long-standing Swiss experience in the field of direct democracy, the project will provide legal technical assistance to overcome current problems with the functioning of direct democracy mechanism. A Bulgarian citizens’ rights NGO and c2d will apply a holistic approach to the issue, tackling its major aspects through a pilot study (survey-based), study visit, Green Paper, broad public consultation, White Paper, public discussions and an international conference.


Partners & Sponsors:

Bulgarian Association for the Promotion of Citizens' Initiative (Daniela Bozhinova) and Centre for Research on Direct Democracy (Magda Forowicz)


Enhancing the use of modern direct democracy tools at local level through Bulgarian-Swiss cooperation 2013-2015

The project will establish BG-Swiss partnership bringing in the Swiss-based academic and practical experience of direct democracy and other tools to bear on the BG case as it embarks on its policy goal to promote the use of instruments of direct democracy at the local level. The partnership will get together civil society actors implementing diverse activities (research, capacity building & empowerment, awareness raising, etc.) jointly targeted at an array of BG stakeholders, including local authorities/small municipalities, CSOs, academia and citizenry.

By a mix of academic/applied research and practical measures, which benefit all types of BG stakeholders, the partnership will contribute to an intensive transfer of know-how and expertise in a very advanced Swiss area like direct democracy, as well as to addressing the existing gaps in BG capacities, regulatory framework and civil initiative with a focus on local level, thus helping bridge the discrepancies among different regions.


People Involved:

Uwe Serdült, Corsin Bisaz (Swiss side) and Lubenova Lubov (Bulgarian side).


Partners & Sponsors:

Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme - Partnership Fund, Project with the European Institute Foundation, Sofia, Bulgaria


The Role of Emotional Interactions in the Polarization of Opinions in Participatory Media - 2013-2016

The proliferation of online participatory media - such as social networking sites, blogs and online fora - has recently changed Internet users from simple information consumers to participants that actively create, share, evaluate and discuss content. This recent development provides a number of opportunities and challenges that are the subject of current research. On the one hand, participatory media provide the potential to increase citizens' engagement in discussions on political and societal issues. At the same time, there is increasing evidence that - under certain conditions - interactions between users can lead to an increasing polarization of opinions. Group dynamics can lead to the emergence of opposing collective opinions that are often hard to reconcile. This development not only in fluences online participatory media, it increasingly aff ects the culture of political discourse. As such, polarization in online media is a relevant phenomenon that can affect the willingness of compromise across social groups. At the same time polarization provides a confrontation of opinions that is a cornerstone of a functional democratic society. A number of individual and collective mechanisms that can result in polarized collective opinions have been identified, e.g. in the fields of opinion dynamics, social psychology, political science and communication studies.
The goal of this interdisciplinary research project is to study the role of emotional interactions in the polarization of opinions. In particular, it will be studied under which conditions positive and negative emotions in online discussions can amplify polarization in online participatory media. We address this question in a quantitative way by means of novel computational methods like the automated emotional classi fication of texts, machine learning, statistical analysis of large-scale data and agent-based modeling.
Based on our experience in the modeling and analysis of collective emotions, we will for the first time combine fi ndings from the study of opinion dynamics with a quantitative approach to the modeling of emotional interactions. Furthermore, we will test hypothesis from social psychology and political science by means of an analysis of large-scale datasets that will be collected in the project. With this, we make an important and timely contribution to the interdisciplinary study of collective social phenomena in digital democracies.


People Involved:

Frank Schweitzer und David Garcia, ETH Zurich; Uwe Serdült, ZDA


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation, SFN grant no CR21I1_146499


e-Democracy - 2012-2016

In several Swiss cantons, pilot schemes are set up to establish e-voting. Switzerland is one of the pioneers worldwide in this field. In the research project «e-Democracy», an interdisciplinary team (political science, law and communication studies) analyses the effects of different forms of e-democracy and e-voting specifically on the political process and direct democracy.

The experiences and debates in three Swiss cantons will be critically evaluated and compared with international developments. Some of the research will focus on the question of whether e-voting influences participation and political communication (i.e. campaigns).

As a secondary topic, the project will cover voting advice applications (VAAs) such as smartvote and ZDA’s own application «Preference Matcher» (Website c2d). These platforms in the internet allow voters to compare their political positions with those of political parties.

The research is based on past projects at the e-Democracy Centre at the Centre for Democracy Studies Aarau (ZDA) and will allow ZDA to get one of the leading centres in the field of e-Democracy.


People Involved:

Uwe Serdült, Fernando Mendez, Micha Germann, Magda Forowicz, Christoph Wellig, Nadja Braun-Binder, Alicia Portenier.


Partners & Sponsors:

Project board: Representatives from the Cantons of Argovia, Basle City, Geneva, Grisons, Schaffhausen as well as the Federal Chancellery.


The people's constituent power: referendums on sovereignty issues - 2011-2014

This project seeks to investigate the role of the referendum where contested sovereignty is at stake. It focuses on two dimensions of contested sovereignty: Firstly, issues related to territorial concerns, such as secession; and secondly, functional issues, such as delegation to international/supranational organisations. The aim is to map dynamics across distinct geographical regions and over time to better understand the intersection between direct democracy and contested sovereignty in an age of increasing globalisation and territorial reconfiguration.


People Involved:

Fernando Mendez, Andreas Auer, Corsin Bisaz, Micha Germann, Nicolas Aubert


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation, SNF grant no 100015-135127


Democratic Innovation: Learning from the Latin American Experience - 2011-2014

For the coming two years we plan to continue to function as a bridge-building organization between Latin America and Europe and work on the following two projects:

Recall – political weapon for bad losers or instrument of accountability?
Initially, most Latin American states opted for a strictly representative political system in which "the people do only deliberate or govern via their representatives" (as mentioned in the Constitutions of Argentina and Bolivia, among others). During the 1990s various countries have started to modify representative democracies by introducing mechanisms of direct democracy. Except for the controversial and well known experiences in Venezuela (with the recall vote on President Hugo Chávez in 2004) and Bolivia (recall vote on President Evo Morales and eight prefects in 2008) recall as a direct democratic mechanism received relatively little attention. Looking further on to the local level, recall procedures can be initiated in Colombia, Perú, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia, as well as in some Argentinian municipalities. Without Bolivia, where no votes had taken place so far because recall was introduced but recently, the frequency of recall votes varies from a few in Ecuador (2010) to thousands in Peru (1997-2009). The observed spread of the recall on the local level leads to questions pointing to key elements of a further understanding of Latin American democracies: How and with which consequences has recall been extended? Is there a tension between representational functions and an imperative political mandate of elected office holders? How is the expansion of recall related to processes of decentralization and greater local autonomy? Is recall a democratic mechanism in the hands of citizens or rather representing a new instrument for elites of the political opposition?

¿Cómo Vamos? Quality of Life Indicators for Better Urban Governance
The decentralization process developed in Latin America from the eighties onwards has put
municipalities in a more central place to provide welfare and improve democracy. Institutions of participatory democracy were created for several reasons such as to reinforce links between
representatives and the public, to improve policy making efficiency or to reduce corruption. More recently, an interest to know to what extent these policies have contributed to increase the
(sometimes only perceived) quality of life became manifest. The methodological challenge of such an undertaking encourages a partnership among academia and local promoters of these
programmes. It would be beneficial for the further promotion of sustainable economic growth
policies if a link between those efforts and a measurable effect could be identified and traced. The goals of this second project would thus be to a) link the Brazilian practice with the one in the Patagonian provinces and b) to do a comparative study on Argentinian cities inspired by the well developed indicators project in Brazil.


People Involved:

Yanina Welp and Uwe Serdült


Partners & Sponsors:

For project on recall:

  • Research Unit of the Tribunal Contencioso Electoral (TCE), Quito, Ecuador;
  • Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Ecuador;
  • Ágora Democrática, Quito, Ecuador - representation of International IDEA and the
    Netherlands Institute for Multi-Party Democracy (NIMD).

Financially supported by AVINA STIFTUNG


Links:

See also: www.dd-la.ch


Democratic Transitions in West Africa: Political Elites, Civil Society and Institutions 2009-2013

This study is a joint research project between c2d and the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso that will bring together not only scholars from these two institutions but also outside experts on democratization and development. The core research component of this study is to compare and contrast six neighbouring West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo) that embarked on almost identical trajectories of political reform in the early 1990s, but exhibited sharply divergent characteristics in terms of regime type by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The empirical puzzle that animates this project is to try to explain this divergence. The study will focus on three main aspects of political transformation in the West African cases: 1) earlier legacies of colonial rule and authoritarianism that may have cast a shadow over subsequent developments; 2) the institutional dynamics of constitutional and political change; and 3) the informal features of the regimes that help determine the development and diversification of their economies and the distribution of resources. Apart from its substantive and problem oriented research agenda, it is anticipated that the findings of this project will be of significance to policy-makers and practitioners and will provide young West African scholars with access to global academic networks.


Partners & Sponsors:

University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Swiss National Science Foundation, SNF grant no IZ70ZO_131306


Questão Publica - Monitoring Platform for the Brazilian elections 2010 (2010-2011)

Given the lack of confidence that citizens have in Parliament, reinforced by frequent corruption scandals, the initiative seeks to reinforce accountability and transparency and, at the same time, to recover the role of an institution with such importance as Parliament. A reinforcement of the ideological debate against a mediatic exposition of the main candidates is also expected. Knowing that a good proportion of the population does not know who their representatives in Parliament are or what they do, the platform seeks to focus the campaign in the candidate's profile, experience and his or her ideas.

The goals of the project are: to provide information on the candidates competing for seats in Parliament; to promote a debate based on the main ideological positions of the candidates on issues identified as the most relevant for citizenry; and to follow and assess the campaigns in terms of transparency and quality of the information provided.See screenshots: Home, Questions, Survey, Result.


Partners & Sponsors:

ABRACCI, Fundación Avina, Esfera, Trancparency International, Instituto Agora, Pitsolutions, Gov2u, C2D, eDC.


Links:

Link to the website: http://www.questaopublica.org.br/


baloti.ch - An Internet Voting Platform for Swiss Migrants - 2010-2011

The migrant population in Switzerland has but limited options to engage in Swiss political life. Naturalization with full political rights can only be achieved after a waiting period of twelve years. It is highly likely that after such a long time interest in and knowledge about Swiss politics will be limited.

With the help of an online voting platform we would therefore like to give Swiss migrants the possibility to cast an informal vote for all referendums in the years 2010 and 2011. They can thus train their voting skills. We provide this service in eleven languages and hope to provide a contribution to the better integration of migrants in Switzerland.

With the help of user data and online surveys we would like to learn about political attitudes and the voting behavior of Swiss migrants. Furthermore we would like to shed some light on migrant's political socialization, participation, social capital, and transnational networks.


People Involved:

A collaboration of c2d, Zentrum für Demokratie Aarau, and MAPS, Université de Neuchâtel


Partners & Sponsors:

20 minuten, Kanal K, Helvetiq, DePapaya.org, Bern University of Applied Sciences

Supported by the Integration Fund of the Swiss Confederation


Links:

www.baloti.ch


Preference Matcher - mapping political parties and citizens' preferences - 2010-2012

This is an applied research project initiated by researchers at the C2D in 2010 to develop a software application - a Preference Matcher- for allowing citizens to better define their subjective political preferences during an electoral campaigns. The data gathered by the online tool is then used for research purposes such as mapping the ideological positions political parties across the electoral space as well as measuring the cohesiveness of political parties and their core supporters.

So far we run experiments and application for the following electoral events:

- UK General Elections May 2010

- Brazilian Presidential and Senate  Elections October 2010

- Greek Regional Elections November 2010


People Involved:

Fernando Mendez, Uwe Serdült, Vicky Triga, Yanina Welp, Jonathan Wheatley


Partners & Sponsors:

UK General Elections May 2010: Queen Mary University of London, University of Hertfordshire, University of Edinburgh, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Brazilian Senate Elections October 2010: Tranparency International, Abracci, Avina, Gov2U, Agora.

Brazilian Presidential Elections October 2010: University of Princeton, European University Institute, Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro.

Greek Regional Elections November 2010: Aristotle University.


ZUMO - Decentralization and Participatory Democracy in Montevideo, Uruguay - 2009-2010

Since the 1980s, Latin America has set the scene in generating innovative practices that have contributed to the realization of new experiences in democracy. Furthermore, in a relatively short period of time, some of these innovative practices have been disseminated throughout the world. The participatory budget would be the most obvious example of this development, although this is just the best known innovation among a substantial array of such initiatives.

In 1990 a process of decentralization and administrative devolution was launched in the city of Montevideo (a territory of 500 km that is home to approximately a million and half inhabitants). The city was divided functionally and administratively into 18 zones that include the 64 districts of the urban and suburban areas of the city, as well as a rural area.

In each one of the 18 zones, a municipal service was established under the name Centro Comunal Zonal (CCZ). The aim of these municipal services was progressively to develop a bond with social organizations and neighbourhood associations of the zone. Each CCZ offers municipal services as well as other responsibilities. The most innovative creation of this structure are the Consejos Vecinales (neighbourhood councils). These are consultative organs, recognized by the Municipal Law, with powers of advising, monitoring, legislative initiative and, in some cases, co-determination.

In spite of the advances of this initiative, the results have not been as successful as had been expected. The Ombudsman indicates that during 2006 neighbourhood councils were one of the main sources of complaints of the inhabitants of Montevideo. The Ombudsman, valuing positively many aspects of the process, has indicated the importance of a study to identify the good and bad practices of this model in order to use the positive outcomes to reinforce the experience.


People Involved:

Paula Ferla, Javier Marsiglia and Alejandra Marzuca (UCU); Uwe Serdült and Yanina Welp (C2D); Alicia Veneziano Esperón (UdelaR); Alejandro Casas and Fernando Rodriguez Herrera,  (Defensoria del Vecino de Montevideo) ; Camilo Alvarez (Plan Cuenca Carrasco)


Partners & Sponsors:

IDEL Instituto de Desarollo Local, Universidad Católica de Uruguay ; C2D Centre for Research on Direct Democracy, University of Zurich, Switzerland  ; Universidad de la Republica (UdelaR), Instituto de Ciencia Política, Defensoría del Vecino de Montevideo

Partly funded by Fundacion Avina and AVINA STIFTUNG


Who votes online and why?

On the occasion of the 27 September 2009 referendums the Swiss living abroad and registered in Geneva, for the fist time, will have the opportunity to use the State of Geneva's internet voting system. C2D in partnership with SPSS Switzerland organizes an online survey allowing to analyse the user friendliness of the system and to shed some light on the socio-demographic differences of e-voters.


People Involved:

Uwe Serdült, Michel Chevallier (GE), Daniel Schloeth (SPSS)

 


Partners & Sponsors:

République et Canton de Genève, Chancellerie d'État

SPSS Switzerland, Zurich


Democratic Innovation: What Europe can learn from Latin America - 2009-2010

Since the 1980s, Latin America has set the scene in generating innovative practices that have contributed to the realization of new experiences in democracy. Furthermore, in a relatively short period of time, some of these innovative practices have been disseminated throughout the world. The participatory budget would be the most obvious example of this development, although this is just the best known innovation among a substantial array of such initiatives. The use of ICT's to follow parliamentary sessions, the promotion of public audiences and citizen audits are also new practices that have been recently developed. The return to democracy as evidenced during the third wave of democracy – something that has taken place after a long period of authoritarian rule and/or violent interactions between distinctive sectors of society – along with the twin processes of political and administrative decentralization, and the emergence of a citizenship that is both mobilized and interested in the res publica have themselves provided a framework for explaining the scenario in which these democratic experiences have taken place. However, these developments alone fail to explain how and with what consequences these practices are evolving. One of the major goals of both the Centre for Research on Direct Democracy (C2D) and the e-Democracy Centre (eDC) is to explain the impact of these innovative practices on the evolution of democracy through the promotion of research that is both of the highest intellectual quality and is elaborated from a pluridisciplinary perspective. The main objective of this research proposal is to learn more about innovative democracy, to assess its outcomes, to build knowledge oriented towards the improvement of results, to build networks, and to share information and resources. In short, the actual activities in the current project are the following: a) The building of a database that will inform us of a number of innovative practices, their characteristics and outcomes (related to: focus; territory or population benefits; objectives; evolution in time, etc.); b) The development of a series of workshops to be held bi-annually and which will, on each occasion, focus on a relevant issue; c) he production of scientific knowledge based on both the above described database and on in-depth research developed in selected Latin American domains of experience. This knowledge would also be used to engage other lines of research developed at the C2D; d) the dissemination of innovative practices in democracy in Latin American through the activities carried out by C2D/eDC team.

One of the main inputs to this research proposal, alongside the development of the database, will come from research development in Latin America, which will use a quantitative approach complemented by an in-depth qualitative study of a selection of experiences of innovative practices. The AVINA network provides a good databank for the initiatives that have resulted from the meetings C2D has had in both Switzerland and South America. We have identified three initiatives that will provide our point of departure: a project to improve transparency, with the purpose of controlling corruption and promoting citizen participation, which is currently being developed in five provinces in Patagonia, Argentina (Fortalecimiento de la Sociedad Civil Patagónica); an initiative to monitor the Deliberative Councils in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil and the interaction of this institution with a network of social organizations (AGORA, em Defemsa do Eleitor e da Democracia); and an initiative to improve the process of decentralization and citizen participation in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay (Consejos Vecinales y Participación Ciudadana).


People Involved:

Yanina Welp, Regional Director for Latin America and Uwe Serdult, Vice-Director Centre for Research on Direct Democracy (C2D).


Partners & Sponsors:

Avina Stiftung


Democracy in Aargau's Communal Reforms - 2008-2009

In the context of the Canton of Aargau's current project" municipal reform Aargau" the c2d has received a mandate from the Canton of Aargau to lead a study on the functioning of democracy in small and in merged municipalities. The first part of the research analyzes how democratic decision-making processes work in municipalities that already have been merged for a considerable period. The focus is on the question of how the interests of smaller population districts are considered within the political process of decision-making. Part II investigates whether the population of the merged municipalities is duly represented in the municipality parliament. Part III focuses on the political scope of the twenty municipalities with the smallest population of the Canton of Aargau.

Im Rahmen des im Kanton Aargau hängigen Projekts "Gemeindereform Aargau" hat das c2d vom Kanton Aargau den Auftrag erhalten, eine Studie über das Funktionieren der Demokratie in kleinen und zusammengeschlossenen Gemeinden durchzuführen. Im ersten Teil dieses Auftrags soll analysiert werden, wie demokratische Entscheidungsverfahren in Gemeinden ablaufen, die bereits seit langer Zeit aus verschiedenen Ortsteilen bestehen. Dabei steht die Frage im Mittelpunkt, wie die Interessen von bevölkerungsmässig kleineren Ortsteilen im politischen Prozess der Entscheidfindung berücksichtigt werden. Im zweiten Teil der Studie soll untersucht werden, ob die Ortsteile in Einwohnerräten von zusammengeschlossenen Gemeinden proportional zur Bevölkerung vertreten sind. Teil 3 der Studie wird sich mit dem politischen Gestaltungsspielraum der zwanzig bevölkerungsmässig kleinsten Gemeinden des Kantons Aargau befassen."


People Involved:

Uwe Serdült, Gabriela Rohner, Rolf Rauschenbach


Partners & Sponsors:

Canton of Aargau


Legitimacy of Municipal Popular Initiatives in the City of Zug - 2008

Mandate to write two legal opinions on the legitimacy of two municipal popular initiatives submitted in the City of Zug.

The initiative „für den Schutz des Hasenbüels” (Initiative for the protection of the Hasenbüel) aims for the protection of the  “Hasenbüel” estate whereas the goal of the initiative „Hochhausstandorte mit Vernunft“ (Initiative for a rational selection of locations for multi-storey buildings in Zug) is to establish an area where the construction of multi-storey buildings should be prohibited in general. Furthermore, both initiatives are directed against concrete construction projects in Zug. Therefore, in both cases the legal questions to be answered were mainly about whether or not the initiatives comply with superior law, i.e. the cantonal and federal law on area planning.

 


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Nina Massüger


Partners & Sponsors:

City of Zug


Power, Parties and Democracy 2008-2010

The so-called third wave of democratisation, which began in Latin America at the end of the 1970s and reached its apogee a decade later with the end of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the USSR, triggered the emergence and re-emergence of democratic regimes in many corners of the globe. Within this process, the institutionalisation of political parties and party systems has been subject to scholarly scrutiny, given the role that party systems are believed to play in the consolidation of democracy. However, in spite of numerous studies, no consensus has been reached either about how we define party system institutionalisation or about its relationship with democracy. This project will contribute to this debate with: 1) the design and application of a comparative analytical framework to investigate party-system institutionalisation in Latin America and in the former Soviet Union; 2) a study of the relationship between party system institutionalisation (or the lack thereof) and the use of the presidential referendum as a mechanism for consolidating (presidential) power; and (3) the extent to which the use of new forms of mass communication has weakened organisations such as parties while strengthening the power of individual leaders.

Institutionalisation of party systems in Latin America and the former Soviet Union

We argue that the prospects for consolidating democracy depend both on the level of institutionalisation of the party system (understood as the extent to which a party system has developed stable links with society) and on the extent to which the party system is autonomous from the state. We reject the position of those scholars who include autonomy as a feature party system institutionalisation because we have observed that party systems can be highly dependent on or interdependent with social movements, social classes and even the state, yet remain stable and institutionalised. The investigation will compare the institutionalisation of party systems in Latin America and the former Soviet Union

The presidential referendum. A retreat to authoritarianism?

In contexts in which party system institutionalisation is low or in which the party system is becoming deinstitutionalised, the referendum can be used as a means for the leader (typically the president) to overcome institutional constraints and consolidate his/her grip on power. This form of referendum typical occurs when a president is facing resistance from the parliament. This study will focus on the binding referendum initiated by the president and will investigate how often this type of referendum is used to increase the president's authority, whether by extending the presidential mandate or by granting extra competences to the presidential office.

The effect of ICTs and new media on Political Party Systems: more democracy or more populism?

A number of authors have attempted to explain how and why parties have used ICTs in their everyday procedures (e.g. internal communication, membership campaigns) and in their relationship with citizens (most notably during election campaigns); however, little attention has been paid to how parties and leaders use ICTs in situations of crisis. Our objective is to explore whether changing strategies of communication have reinforced the party as an organization or whether instead they have strengthened the position of leaders. One key question here is whether the use of ICTs and new forms of media to propagate the sound-bite in response to a crisis can lead to populist discourses that benefit charismatic leaders over traditional political parties.


People Involved:

Yanina Welp and Jonathan Wheatley


Partners & Sponsors:

C2D in house project


Constitutional Conventions, Direct Democracy and Institutional Change - 2008-2011

Constitutional conventions are specialized institutional bodies, elected or appointed, that are mandated for writing a new constitution or amending an existing constitution of a given state or state like entity. The aim of this research is to measure and to compare the relationship between constitutional conventions, direct democracy and institutional change and to evaluate the specific conflict resolution capacity of constitutional conventions. The first part of the research will present a broad overview of constitutional conventions throughout time (history) and space (countries, constituent entities), relating their composition, mandate and activity. Although basically descriptive, this kind of mapping the phenomenon is not without interest, as constitutional conventions have literally spread among all continents in the most various circumstances. Part II studies the links between constitutional conventions and direct democracy. It is a historical fact that many devices of direct democracy have been conceived or fostered by constitutional conventions. Thus, the constitutional referendum is a direct result of the New England constitutional conventions of the 1770ies which stand at the very origin of modern constitutionalism. In Switzerland, during the 1830ies, a series of constitutional conventions have forced upon the rulers of that time the adoption of direct democracy devices like the legislative referendum, the popular initiative and the recall, which have strongly favoured the development of direct democracy on the federal government level. The development of direct democracy in Latin America during the last fifteen years is widely but not exclusively due to constitutional assemblies. Part III will entirely focus on the unique experience of the two European Conventions by which the European Union has tried to bridge its democratic deficit. The 1999 Convention that drafted the Charter on Fundamental Rights and the 2002/2003 Convention for Europe, which has produced the Constitutional Treaty, deserve special attention as they operated for the first time in history on a supranational level. The conventions will be scrutinized as to their relationship with democracy and, in this respect, compared with the national or sub-national experiences listed in Part. I. Finally, the last part opens the perspective to the social and political science arena by examining constitutional conventions as a means of conflict resolution. Typically, constitutional conventions are established for preserving or creating a given order of civil government in a context of crisis. Under what circumstances are they established? To what extent and under what conditions do conventions succeed? Why do they fail? What are the specific communicative processes that play a role at this highest possible level of government? How does the consecutive referendum affect these processes? This part concludes with inside remarks concerning ongoing experiences with constitutional conventions in Cyprus, Nepal and the canton of Geneva.


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Jonathan Wheatley, Beat Kuoni, Nina Massüger, Ana Tornic, Mike Peart (till August 2009), Maja Harris (starting August 2009)


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation, SNF grant no 100011-120040; extended by SNF grant no


The European Referendum Revisited 2007-2010

The European Union has been ensnared by direct democracy. The negative results of the French and Dutch referendums in May and June 2005 had the effect of blocking all efforts at deepening the Union and seriously endangering, if not shelving completely, the entry into force of the Constitutional Treaty of 2004. The prospect of future national referendums, in France and elsewhere, on the addition of new members, particularly Turkey, constitutes a serious challenge to the prospect of enlargement. Thus, the two main future prospects of the European Union, deepening and enlarging, face the same obstacle: direct democracy. The present investigation treats this problem as its focus by synthesizing the fields of constitutional law, political science, and democratic theory to properly situate the referendum in the context of the European Union and outline the path ahead. The first step, the analytical stage, is to define the legal context and trace the birth and development of the 44 national referendums concerning European questions that have taken place since the Treaty of Rome. The referendums can be divided into three distinct categories: accession, integration, and enlargement, where each category represents a different balance of national and European competencies. The second step consists of providing policy recommendations, which are each derived from the fundamental principles of democracy of the EU. The first recommendation is to make obligatory the accession referendum in line with the Copenhagen Criteria. The second proposition is to abandon the integration and enlargement referendums. The final recommendation is to institute a truly European referendum, on the continental level, to address issues of community law and in which the unanimity requirement would be formally abandoned. This project's methodology combines the comparative legal approach with both the study of political decision making and discourse analysis to create a truly multidisciplinary investigation.


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Fernando Mendez, Vicky Triga, Yanina Welp


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation, SNF grant no 100011-118183; extended by 12 month with SNF grant no 100015-124577


Links:

Conference related to the project: Direct Democracy in and around Europe


Internet Platform for Holyrood 2007 Elections in Scotland - 2007

Project grants in order to conceptualize and implement a modular, interactive pre-electoral website informing the electorate about candidates and voting procedures.


People Involved:

Navraj Galeigh, Fernando Mendez, Michael Peart, Uwe Serdült,


Partners & Sponsors:

Edinburgh Law School, Scotland, and Politools Switzerland.


Links:

The Holyrood 2007 Platform: www.c2d.ch/holyrood2007

 


The Swiss Decision-Making System in the 21st Century: Institutions, Power, Conflict - 2007-2010

The purpose of this project is to carry out an encompassing study of the decision-making structure (power configuration among the political elites, conflict and coalitions in the party system and among interest groups) and processes (institutions, outputs) in contemporary Switzerland. To this end, we develop a series of hypothesis derived from the Swiss and international literature. Using Kriesi's (1980) study as a starting point, we test these hypotheses through a "before-after" analysis, that is, a comparison between the characteristics of the Swiss decision-making structure and processes at the beginning of the 1970s and at the beginning of the 2000s. Our main focus is on the collective actors (interest groups, parties, state offices, etc.), but we also analyze the structure of the political elite at the individual level.


People Involved:

Pascal Sciarini, Uwe Serdült, Manuel Fischer, Denise Traber


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation, SNF grant no

Pascal Sciarini, Département de Science Politique, Université de Genève


Internet Election Platform for the City of Bulach - 2006

Project grant from the Office of Statistics, Canton of Zurich, in order to conceptualize and implement a pre-electoral website informing the electorate about candidates and voting procedures.


People Involved:

Uwe Serdült, Fernando Mendez, Michael Peart


Partners & Sponsors:

Canton of Zurich, Office of Statistics


Links:

www.c2d.ch/bulach2006/


E-Voting Trials in the Canton of Zurich - 2006

Public Opinion survey and report on E-Voting Trials in Bertschikon, Bulach, and Schlieren, Canton of Zurich


People Involved:

Uwe Serdült and Alexander Trechsel


Partners & Sponsors:

Federal Chancellery, Canton of Zurich


Results Abstract:

E-Voter sind gemäss unserer Umfrage bei 300 Stimmenden aus den drei Versuchsgemeinden Bertschikon, Bülach und Schlieren besonders oft im jüngeren bis mittleren Alter und männlichen Geschlechts. Überdurchschnittlich viele E-Voter finden wir in Schichten der erwerbstätigen Bevölkerung, die sich beruflich oder universitär weitergebildet haben. Die sogenannten ‚selektiven Urnengänger’ sind offener für die elektronische Stimmabgabe als die ‚regelmässigen Urnengänger’. Befragte mit höheren Einkommen, hohem Vertrauen in das Internet sowie mit häufiger und kompetenter Nutzung der neuen Kommunikationstechnologien haben für die Abstimmung besonders oft den elektronischen Weg gewählt. 

Können wir damit rechnen, dass bedingt durch die neuen Abstimmungskanäle die Beteiligung an Abstimmungen steigt? Die Frage ist schwierig zu beantworten. Wir können jedoch erkennen, dass sowohl traditionelle Urnengänger als auch briefliche Stimmende bereit sind, auf die elektronischen Abstimmungsmöglichkeiten umzusteigen. Von den befragten E-Votern haben 5 Prozent erklärt, dass sie ohne die elektronische Möglichkeit nicht abgestimmt hätten. Die meisten Stimmenden sind bei ihrem gewohnten Abstimmungskanal geblieben. Es gibt jedoch eine beträchtliche Zahl Umsteiger auf die elektronische Variante sowohl von traditionellerweise an der Urne als auch per Korrespondenz Stimmenden. Zusammenfassend lässt sich sagen, dass es durchaus Hinweise darauf gibt, dass einige Nicht-Stimmende dank dem neuen Kanal zur Stimmabgabe bewegt werden können.

Stimmen E-Voter anders ab als an der Urne und per Korrespondez Stimmende? E-Voter können sich je nach Vorlage durchaus von den Benützern der anderen Abstimmungskanäle unterscheiden. Was allerdings noch nie in der Begleitforschung zu E-Voting beobachtet werden konnte, ist, dass E-Voter diametral anders stimmen, also eine Vorlage annehmen, wenn der Rest der Stimmenden sie ablehnt. Wie schätzen E-Voter, Stimmende und die gesamte Stimmbevölkerung die neuen Abstimmungskanäle ein? Die befragten E-Voter sind mit der Benutzerfreundlichkeit in hohem Masse zufrieden. An der Urne und per Korrespondenz Stimmende schätzen das Abstimmen per Internet oder SMS als weniger benutzerfreundlich ein. Die grosse Mehrheit aller befragten Stimmberechtigen spricht sich mit über 80 Prozent für die Einführung von E-Voting per Internet aus. Gegenüber den traditionellen Abstimmungskanälen wird die elektronische Stimmabgabe als angenehm, schnell und effizient für die Auszählung empfunden. Sicherheitsaspekte und Datenschutz werden als die hauptsächlichen Gefahren gesehen.


OfficialVersion.pdf   

ICT and Social Inclusion - 2006

Mandate from URBACT Programme Udiex-Alep financed by the European Regional Development Fund of the EU, administered by the City of Venice, Italy. We provided background material for the 8th Udiex-Alep Workshop in Crotone, Italy, and wrote a short case study report.


Partners & Sponsors:

City of Venice, Italy;  European Union, Brussels


Preconditions for a Democratic Election - 2006

C2D collaborators participated in the Seminar "Preconditions for a democratic election" organized by the Council of Europe's Venice Commission, where they presented a paper on "Campaign Financing and Media Access Regulation for Referendums" (Tobias Zellweger/Uwe Serdült). This led to an ongoing research project within the C2D on campaign financing regulations in states having held at least one nationwide referendum since 1995. The C2D is co-organizing a conference on the issue together with the University of Zürich's "Institut für Politikwissenschaft" on October 27/28th, 2006.


Partners & Sponsors:

Venice Commission, Council of Europe

Institute of Political Science, University of Zurich


ZellwegerSerdult2006.pdf   

Direct Democracy in Latin America 2006-2007

This comparative research project aims to analyze the emergence of mechanisms of direct democracy in Latin American states. The institutions on the national level are studied both from a historical and contemporary perspective. The research looks at the legal framework as well as at the practice of direct democracy, trying to identify possible interactions.


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Yanina Welp


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation


Links:

A conference was organized on the subject in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 14/15th 2007.


The Comparative Actor-Process-Event Scheme (CAPES): Towards Cumulative Research in Political Science - 2006-2007

APES is a web-based software tool allowing the use of qualitative case study data for a systematic comparative assessment of policy processes. Focusing on the actors' participation in decision-making processes, the description of a policy process can be visualized. We are currently working on the improvement of APES application. A particular focus lies on the improvement of the graphical representation, the enhancement of interactivity, and the development of quantitative indicators.


People Involved:

Uwe Serdült, Chantal Vögeli


Partners & Sponsors:

Institute of Political Science IPZ, University of Zurich


Links:

See: http://www.apes-tool.ch/


International Expert Panel for a European Solution in Cyprus - 2006

An international expert panel composed of eight university professors presents a proposal to promote a just Cyprus settlement, leaving behind all previous "plans" submitted to the Cyprus people by foreign entities, in particular the plan rejected in the April 2004 referendum. The proposal is based on the four principles of the European Union: liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. More specifically, the expert panel suggests to solve the Cyprus problem by holding a Constitutional Convention.


Links:

www.aconstitutionalconventionforcyprus.ch/


European Residents in Regeneration Network - 2006-2007

Mandate from the pilot project ''European Residents in Regeneration Network' funded by the European Commission (DG EAC) and administered by the Quartier en Crise- European Regeneration Areas Network (QeC-ERAN) in Brussels. Our task is to design an electronic democracy platform for ten different European cities with the goal of promoting active European citizenship and increasing citizen participation.


People Involved:

Fernando Mendez, Uwe Serdült, Michael Peart


Partners & Sponsors:

European Union (DG EAC), Brussels


Local e-Democracy Initiatives in Europe - 2006-2007

The project provides an overview of local e-Democracy initiatives (7-12 case studies per country) in Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. Currently we are working on adding the USA and Canada.


Partners & Sponsors:

Joint research project with De Montfort University, UK, financed by the UK Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Continued with support from the Towards Electronic Democracy (TED) project financed by the European Science Foundation.


The Consequences of Switzerland's European Integration Process from the Perspective of the Cantons 2005-2006

Study on the consequences for the cantons of Switzerland's European integration process. The study compares the advantages and disadvantages, from the perspective of the cantons, that would result from EU-membership on the one hand, and from the pursuit of bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU on the other hand. The analysis covers the institutional elements of such topics as: the democratic legitimacy of political actors, the participation of the cantons in federal level decision-making processes concerning European matters, the distribution of powers within the federal state, the participation of the cantons in decision-making processes at the EU level, and the internal application and execution of agreements.


Partners & Sponsors:

Institut de Droit Européen, Université de Fribourg; Conference of Cantonal Governments


Results Abstract:

Conférence des gouvernements cantonaux (éd.), Entre adhesion à l'UE et voie bilatérale: réflexions et besoin de réformes du point de vue des cantons - Rapports d'experts commandés par le groupe de travail "Europe - Réformes des cantons", Berne 2006 / Konferenz der Kantonsregierungen (Hrsg.), Zwischen EU-Beitritt und bilateralem Weg: Überlegungen und Reformbedarf aus kantonaler Sicht - Expertenbericht im Auftrag der Arbeitsgruppe "Europa - Reformen der Kantone", Bern 2006.


Analysis of an E-Voting Opinion Poll - 2004

The C2D analyzes the opinion poll on the e-voting organized on September 26th, 2004.


People Involved:

Alexander Trechsel, Thomas Christin


Partners & Sponsors:

Canton of Geneva


Analysis of Questionnaires on e-Voting in the Communes of Carouge and Meyrin - 2004

The C2D elaborates and evaluates a questionnaire on the e-voting experience in the communes of Carouge and Meyrin.


People Involved:

Alexander Trechsel and Thomas Christin


Partners & Sponsors:

Chancellery of the Canton of Geneva


Prix Walter Hug -2004

The C2D's founder and director Prof. Andreas Auer was awarded the distinguished "Prix Walter Hug" for his lifetime research on political rights.


People Involved:

Andreas Auer


Swiss Judiciary and Direct Democracy 2003-2006

This interdisciplinary research project looks at the role of the Swiss Judiciary in shaping and influencing the institutions and practice of direct democracy in Switzerland, on both the cantonal and the federal levels. All the relevant case law (490 decisions) covering the timeframe from 1990 to 2005 has been analyzed from both a political and a legal point of view. As a result, it has been possible to determine the principles developed by the judiciary with regard to both safeguarding and limiting direct democracy. The relevant tendencies have been identified


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Bénédicte Tornay, Irène Renfer


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation


E-Voting - Quantitative Analysis of the Alpha-ter test - 2002

The C2D evaluates a questionnaire on the e-voting system.


People Involved:

Thomas Christin and Raphaël Müller


Partners & Sponsors:

Chancellery of the Canton of Geneva


Draft Decree for the Canton of Geneva-2002

On behalf of the canton of Geneva, the C2D presents a draft decree allowing the practice of e-voting in the communes.


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Tobias Zellweger


Partners & Sponsors:

Canton of Geneva


Investigation of the Possibility of e-Voting in the Canton of Geneva - 2001

The chancellery of the canton of Geneva gave a mandate to the C2D for an interdisciplinary research-based investigation of the possibility of introducing e-voting in the canton of Geneva.


Partners & Sponsors:

Chancellery of the Canton of Geneva


Results Abstract:

Andreas Auer and Alexander Trechsel, Voter par Internet? Le projet e-voting dans le canton de Genève dans une perspective socio-politique et juridique, Geneva/Basle/Munich, 2001.


Assessment of the Legitimacy of the e-Voting System for the Canton of Geneva - 2001

The chancellery of the canton of Geneva gave a mandate to the C2D for an expert assessment of the legitimacy of the e-voting system.


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Nicolas von Arx


Partners & Sponsors:

Chancellery of the Canton of Geneva


Results Abstract:

Andreas Auer and Nicolas von Arx, "La légitimité des procedures de vote: les defies du e-voting", AJP/PJA 2002 491.


Introducing Internet-voting Mechanisms for the European Parliamentary Elections - 2001-2003

This research project was financed by the European Commission and conducted by the C2D (Alexander Trechsel) in cooperation with the European University Institute Florence (Yves Mény, President).


Partners & Sponsors:

European University Institute, Florence, Italy


For a True Direct Democracy in the Italian Regions -2000

Andreas Auer and Gionata Buzzini submitted an expert opinion entitled "Per une vera democrazia diretta nelle Regioni italiane" to the "Comitato promotore referendum" in Rome (Italy). The report evaluated the potential for development of direct democracy on the regional level in Italy, based on a constitutional amendment.


Institutional Attachment and the Shaping of Attitudes Toward Europe - 2000-2002

This research was financed by the second round of the national project "Demain la Suisse" and belongs to the program "Persistence and change of Swiss Institutions. Domestic and international causes", directed by Klaus Armingeon (University of Berne). The project provides feedback on the existing relations between the Swiss electorate's attitudes towards fundamental institutions of the federal state (direct democracy, federalism, neutrality) and Switzerland's European integration process.


Partners & Sponsors:

Federal Office of Education and Science


Research Project on Direct Democracy in the Swiss Cantons - 1998

On behalf of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Europe, the C2D leads a research project on direct democracy in the communes.


Partners & Sponsors:

Council of Europe, Swiss Departement of Foreign Affairs


Assessment of the Possible Effects of Swiss Membership in the EU - 1998

The C2D is mandated by the Federal Integration Office to measure the effects of Switzerland's (hypothetical) membership to the European Union on democracy in the cantons.


Partners & Sponsors:

Federal Integration Office


Report on the Revision of Political Rights - 1997

The C2D submits a detailed report on the revision of political rights to be adopted by the Swiss Federal Assembly.


Partners & Sponsors:



Public Authorities Facing Direct Democracy - 1997-1999

This research was financed by the national science foundation project "Demain la Suisse". The study presents a systematic comparison of the institutions of direct democracy in  Switzerland, Italy and the United States of America, where the institutions have been the most widely developed and where they are used the most often in practice.


People Involved:

Nicolas von Arx, Claudio Mascotto


Partners & Sponsors:

Federal Office of Education and Science


Postal voting - 1996

Results Abstract:

Nicolas Von Arx. 1998. Post-Demokratie: Die briefliche Stimmabgabe in der Schweiz, Allgemeine Juristische Praxis, 933–950.


Dynamics and Realization of Direct Democracy in a Federal State, 1994-1997

Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation


Direct Democracy in Eastern Europe - 1993-1998

This was an independent research project that surveyed and analyzed the mechanisms of direct democracy implemented into the recent constitutions of Eastern European States and the Former Soviet Republics, as well as the use that was made of them.


Direct Democracy in the European Union - 1993-1998

This was an independent research project focusing on national referendums linked to the European integration process as well as on the institution of a European referendum.


Local Direct Democracy in Switzerland: General View, Institutions and Experiences in the Cities - 2000-2003

This interdisciplinary and comparative research project evaluates the institutions and the use of direct democracy on the communal level. Switzerland consists of nearly 2,800 communes, benefiting from various degrees of autonomy. Thus there is a rich diversity of mechanisms of direct democracy. This study focuses on the municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants, or in other words, municipalities regarded as cities. The research covers the legal framework, on the one hand, and the popular ballots held between 1990 and 2000, on the other. Both issues are dealt with by a legal and a political science approach.

Publication: Michael Bützer  (2007) Direkte Demokratie in Schweizer Städten. Ursprung, Ausgestaltung und Gebrauch im Vergleich. (Studien zur Sachunmittelbaren Demokratie Bd. 4).


People Involved:

Andreas Auer, Michael Bützer, Sébstien Micotti


Partners & Sponsors:

Swiss National Science Foundation, Project No 1114-059366


Results Abstract:

SPSS18 data set: click to download