EXCEPTIUS: Exceptional powers in time of Sars-CoV-2 crisis

Exceptius is run jointly by the University of Groeningen and University of Grenoble-Alpes/ Sciences Po Grenoble

Since January 2020, governments have engaged in exceptional decision-making to limit the propagation of the Covid-19. Although initially strong, public support for emergency measures has eroded as the severity of the pandemic has lessened. Throughout Europe, citizens and scholars are increasingly critical about the democratic and human right costs of the management of the pandemic. Moreover, exceptional measures can durably affect democratic governance.


If unaddressed, this decrease in public trust can reduce citizens’ compliance with public health measures and destabilize democratic stability. This calls for urgent research on the modalities, impacts and determinants of emergency decisions in crisis times. To meet this need, EXCEPTIUS analyses exceptional decision-making in 32 European countries. The project contributes interdisciplinary knowledge to the study of democratic resilience, by assessing why some democratic systems prove more resilient to crises and which political reforms increase such resilience.


Research Objectives


The general objective of the project is to analyze the modalities, impacts and determinants of emergency decision-making in Europe through a cross-country empirical analysis. Three specific objectives are pursued.


First, we intend to define and document metrics of exceptional decisions and their daily implementation from January 31st in each European subnational region in an open-access dashboard. We expect data for 15 European countries to be available two months after the start of the project and all countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) to be covered after nine months.


Second, combining our data with the evolution of the pandemic in European subnational regions, we will assess the impact of emergency measures on a) democratic stability, b) political legitimacy, d) compliance and e) the containment of the pandemic. This allows us to identify, after 14 months, the best practices in terms of pandemic management and to strengthen the evidence-based of exceptional policy making in the Netherlands.


Our third objective is to identify the determinants of the variation of governmental emergency measures through a two-staged approach. In the first stage, we will investigate how governments respond to the severity of the health crisis. To better seize the rationale behind emergency decision-making, we introduce political indicators pertaining to the political culture, legal and constitutional constraints, type of national institutions, political pre-crisis context and international commitments. Doing so will enable, by the end of the project, the identification of adequate political reforms which may make the Dutch political system and society more resilient to the pandemic but also to future crises.


EXCEPTIUS governance and partners



EXCEPTIUS' board is a restricted group that aims to solve the strategic problems arising over the course of the project. The board seeks to represent the diverse disciplinary fields / expertise concerned by the project.

Logo of the University of Leeds

Prof. Dr Adam Crawford


Director of Leeds Social Sciences Institute

Logo of the Catholic University of Leuven

Prof. Dr Claire Dupuy

Political science (public policy analysis)

Université Catholique de Louvain

Logo of the University of Warsaw

Assoc. prof. Patrycja Grzebyk

International Law and Human Rights

Faculty of Political Science and International Studies

University of Warsaw

Logo of Democracy International

Ms Caroline Vernaillen

Community Manager and International Partnerships

Democracy International e.V, Germany


The project's partners

The project’s partners include national team leader who are managing national data collection (on metrics of exceptionalism and on the impacts of exceptionalism). In the largest countries, especially characterized by decentralized/ federal policy-making, several team leaders are collaborating to collect data.

Logo of the University of Malta

Dr Anna Khakee
Christa Callus

Logo of the University of Minho

Dr Roberto Merrill
Adriana Macedo

Logo of the University of Warsaw

Assoc. Profc Wojciech Brzozowski
Assoc. Prof. Patrycja Grzebyk

Logo of the University of Catania

Dr Marcello Carammia

Logo of the University of Gothenburg

Prof. Agnes Cornell

Logo of the Central European University

Prof. Agnes Batory
Oliver Pilz

Logo's of the University of Deusto and the Open University of Catalonia

Assoc. prof Cristina Churruca
Assoc. prof Gorka Urrutia Asua
University of Deusto, Spain

Francesc Guillén Lasierra
Generalitat de Catalunya / Open Univ. Catalonia

Logo of Tampere University

Dr Corentin Poyet
Risto Niemikari

Logo of Aarhus University

Prof. Christian Bjørnskov

Logo of Dublin City University

Dr Vicky Conway

Logo of the University of Leeds

Prof. Adam Crawford
Dr Elena Sciandra
United Kingdom

Logo of the Catholic University of Leuven

Prof. Claire Dupuy

Logo of the University of Grenoble

Prof. Raul Magni Berton
Prof. Sébastian Roché
Sciences Po Grenoble

Contact : 
Sebastian Roché
Participant.e.s du laboratoire : 
Participant.e.s hors labo : 

Clara Egger (Centre for International Relations Research) ; Kees Aarts (Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences)

Partenaires :