TrueDem (Trust in European Democracies) is financed by the European Union (Horizon Europe Programme, Grant agreement ID: 101095237).
TrueDem will monitor the structural (long-term) drivers of political trust but also emphasize the strategies which can be employed by diverse actors and agencies to strengthen accurate and informed judgments of agency trustworthiness. The objective of TrueDem is twofold. First, we aim to design and implement a complex research effort to collect comprehensive evidence on the judgments of trustworthiness in a range of European states. Second, the project will develop a comprehensive and transparent toolbox of short-term and long-term policy interventions including recommendations, and methodologies for enhancing trust in political institutions, boosting transparency, and inclusiveness of representative systems in Europe
While there is a growing concern about the crisis of democracy and democratic backsliding, this research effort will provide an innovative theoretical perspective on the sources of regime support and strategies for trust building in the public domain. In particular, the project looks at the different drivers of 'positive high trust in democracy' and 'negative high trust in autocracy'. The project will facilitate development of a new paradigm of political trust and trust-building and will inspire emergence of new insights on the multi-facet origins of political trust and multi-factor nature of trustworthiness.
Partner institutions: Institute for Comparative Survey Research - Vienna, Austria (leading partner), Metropolitan University Prague (Czech Republic), Sciences Po Grenoble- Grenoble Alpes University (France), Leuphana University Luneburg (Germany), University of the Peloponnese (Greece), University of Salerno (Italy), University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland), University of Bucharest (Romania), Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Institute for Future Studies (Sweden), V.N.Karazin Kharkiv National University (Ukraine)
Within this consortium, the French team consisting of Prof. Dr. Frédéric Gonthier (National team leader) and Dr. Céline Belot, is involved in the two following workpackages: WP8 (Empirical Data Collection – quantitative and qualitative studies) and WP9 (Democratic innovations and policy toolkit: knowledge-based policy actions catalogue).
WP8 comprises a set of qualitive studies that aims to investigate the mechanisms by which citizens make decisions about the trustworthiness and trust to political institutions and what can be the role of institutions and CSOs in strengthening political trust.
- Focus group interviews with citizens: Czechia (3), France (2), Greece (4), Poland (3), Romania (4) (16 FGDs in total). FGDs will be organized on the country-by-country basis and conducted between January and May 2024. France is in charge of elaborating the animation grid and good practices for the 16 FGDS. The Primary topics to be addressed in FGDs are: (1) decision-making about voting, interplay between electoral participation and perceptions of electoral integrity on one side, and political trust and attitudes to democracy on the other; (2) interplay between perceptions of governments’ decision on the ongoing crisis (pandemic, war and migration) and their perceived trustworthiness. FGDs will be conducted in national languages; transcripts will be prepared in national languages; summaries will be produced in English.
- Expert interviews with policymakers and politicians: Austria (N=20), Czechia (N=15), France (N=10), Greece (N=15), Italy (N=15), Poland (N=15), Romania (N=15), Slovakia (N=15), Slovenia (N=20), Sweden (N=15) (155 expert interviews with policymakers and politicians in total). Interviews will be conducted between January and June 2024. Experts will be invited to comment on the issues of public trust and the role of trust for the country's governance, the quality of governance and the efficiency of political institutions.
- Consultations with CSO leaders: Austria (N=20), Czechia (N=15), France (N=10), Greece (N=15), Italy (N=15), Poland (N=15), Romania (N=15), Slovakia (N=15), Slovenia (N=20), Sweden (N=15) (155 expert interviews with policymakers and politicians in total). Consultations with CSOs will be conducted between January and June 2024. Their aims include: to tap the knowledge of CSOs that work at the level of communities; to capture the experience of specialized civil society organizations and other similar groups to improve the quality of policies and decision-making; to promote sustainability of the proposed new policy measures; to give voice to the poor and excluded social groups; to set foundations for broad participation to ensure implementation of the new policy measures.
WP9 aims at taking stock of studies evidencing that democratic innovations substantiate the objective of fostering political trust. We plan on translating this scientific knowledge into a set of knowledge-based policy actions, methodologies and tools so as to enhance political trust and support for democracy. Insights will be organized in a freely accessible comprehensive material. WP9 revolves around three operational tasks:
- Outlining the methodological framework for a system of democratic innovations: A state-of-the art report highlighting how democratic innovations can help rebuild political trust and legitimacy as well as addressing more specifically the potential of each type of democratic innovation for expanding political trust and/or countering distrust, will be delivered in June 2024.
- Examine the extent to which increasing the number of decision makers, and deepening the quality of decisions by opening more discussion spaces can be articulated to reinforce political trust: A comprehensive catalogue of policy actions and democratic innovations that can be applied to enhance political trust and support for democracy, is due by June 2025
- Elaborating knowledge-based policy actions and democratic innovations: An analytical report comprising evidence-informed policy recommendations on democratic innovations likely to generate political trust and develop scale-specific strategies to promote them in different societies, will be delivered in August 2025.