Institutions for Democratic Governance, Citizenship and Trust

Coordinator: prof. dr. mr. Mark Bovens

This theme concerns the main question about sustainable democratic governance: how to create and reinforce robust, resilient, and inclusive democratic institutions, based on the rule of law, at various geographical scales?

The focus is on the core institutions of the democratic Rechtsstaat -equal citizenship, representative government, independent adjudication, impartial administration. How do we transpose  gains at the national level to the European and even global level? In the face of the worldwide financial, economic and ecological challenges, this issue has gained unprecedented relevance. This transformation will have severe implications for the understanding of these basic concepts, since the justification of governmental power was long interrelated with the idea of the nation-state.

This theme will assess these implications, and deal with salient political and social issues (transparency, accountability, efficacy, legitimacy, trust). At the national, European and global level, a major concern is how the relevant institutions can be designed and maintained in such a way that they are both effective by professional standards, and evaluated as legitimate by an increasingly more critical citizenry.

Specific questions are:

  • How can we explain the emergence, evolution, and dissolution of institutions for democratic governance?
  • How can the various elements of good governance (democracy, human rights protection, accountability, etc.) be fostered in failed states, emerging democracies, and transnational networks?
  • What is the role of the media and the arts in state formation, the construction and negotiation of citizenship, and its interaction with political participation?
  • Is there a decline in citizen’s trust of political, legal, and administrative institutions and, if so, how can this be explained and remedied?
  • How did, and do, core values and common practices of citizenship, accountability, and transparency emerge at the national, European and transnational or global level?