Lopende mensen
Lopende mensen

Democratic innovations & populism: For better or worse?

Populism is on the rise, and populist citizens are angry. They feel politicians do not listen to them. This project of Dr Kristof Jacobs investigates if and how democratic innovations (e.g. citizen-initiated referendums, participatory budgeting and citizens’ assemblies) can help to address this. Often it is assumed that such innovations either have a positive effect or, at worst, have no effect. Yet, whether this is also the case in practice has not been studied so far.



This project studies to what extent democratic innovations have an impact on citizens' populist attitudes. Preliminary findings include:

  • A meta-analysis of the effects of democratic innovations shows that mini-publics can have an effect on participants.
  • A published paper shows that citizens with a higher degree of populist attitudes are more likely to accept loss in a referendum.
  • A conference paper on the effects of participating in participatory budgeting shows that highly populist citizens became less populist (but also that less populist citizens became more populist).



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