Dr K.T.E. Jacobs (Kristof)

Associate professor - Empirical Political Science

Dr K.T.E. Jacobs (Kristof)
Visiting address

Heyendaalseweg 141

Postal address

Postbus 9108

Working days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Kristof Jacobs (Belgium) is an Associate professor at the Department of Political Science. His research focuses on contemporary challenges to democracy, their consequences and the responses to them. In 2019 he was awarded an NWO VIDI grant (2019-2023). In 2020, as co-PI, he received an NWO ORC grant to examine hybrid democratic innovations (2021-2025). He was the director of the Dutch 2016 and 2018 national referendum study and the co-director of the 2021 Dutch national election study.

1. Challenges. Contemporary democracies are under great pressure nowadays. In established democracies the quality of democracy risks being eroded by the rise of populist parties and the increase of ‘angry’ populist citizens.

2. Consequences. These challenges can cripple governments, lead to fragmentation and a lower legitimacy of decisions taken by governments. Moreover, because populist citizens do not feel heard, their anger can boil over and lead to illegal and ultimately violent action as a last resort (cf. protests against windmills and Black Pete).

3. Responses. In response to populist parties, governments often embark on changes of the electoral system. Regarding populist citizens, the criticism that governments do not sufficiently listen to angry citizens, can lead to democratic innovations to open up the democratic procedures. However, we do not know whether such democratic innovations help or not. This puzzle is his current research focus.

Research theme
  • Democratic challenges, populism, democratic innovations
Research group
  • Political Science


Research grants and prizes


Ancillary activities

In his research, Kristof Jacobs examines the challenges that are facing democracy, such as the rise of populist parties and voters. He also explores the role that social media plays in elections and the enthusiasm for specific political parties.