The determinants of active civic participation at European and national level

Brussels Conference 


Objectives of the project:


1.   to identify the determinants of civic participation, understanding the latter term to include participation (a) in European Parliament elections, (b) in referendums on European integration issues, (c) in national elections, and (d) in non-electoral political and community action.  Determinants examined include gender, age, class and disability.


2.   to analyse the impact of political parties and the media on civic participation, with particular reference to the effects of these two actors on participation in the European Parliament elections of 2004


3.   to identify the effects on participation of the different socio-political contexts that characterise different societies with particular reference to mobilising and facilitating institutions and practices


4.   to identify the key interactions between the three sets of variables referred to in objectives 1 to 3


5.   to make evidence-based policy recommendations designed to improve the extent and the quality of active civic participation.


Brief description of the project:


The project will evaluate the state of the art of the study of referendums on European integration and will analyse all available survey and aggregate data sets dealing with EU referendum voting. It will collect and analyse aggregate data on participation and vote choice in European Parliament and other elections and related census-based data for all member states.  Using European Social Survey (ESS) data, it will examine the determinants of abstention in national elections in 23 countries and will identify the dimensions and determinants of non-electoral civic participation.  The project will also analyse trends in awareness of and engagement with European issues and the impact on these of communication initiatives and media coverage of European affairs.  The project will conduct a study of campaigning in the European Parliament election of 2004 and devise a set of indicators of campaign activity and of media coverage of EU affairs, including a dataset of daily media variables relating to key EU themes. The project will also deal with variations in institutional contexts relevant to civic participation, examining variations in the structures of governance at supranational, national, regional and local levels and variations in institutional mobilisation and institutional facilitation. This phase of the project will generate a dataset of indicators of mobilisation and facilitation across 25 countries. Finally the project will evaluate, from both a gender and a disability perspective, all the data collection and analyses undertaken and the interpretations, conclusions and recommendations produced. 


Expected results:


The successful completion of the programme of work just summarised and the achievement of the five objectives outlined above will lead to major advances in the scientific understanding of the factors promoting and inhibiting active civic participation and will provide the basis for designing policy responses that would have a very high probability of producing positive outcomes.



Working Papers and Publications
Fifth Framework Research Programme Project:  Democratic Participation and Political Communication in Systems of Multi-level Governance

UCD Geary Institute Public Opinion and Political Behaviour Programme

Sixth Framework Research Programme