The Project

DEMOS (Democratic Efficacy and the Varieties of Populism in Europe) is a research project aiming at better understanding populism. Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, the project is carried out by 15 partner institutions in Europe and involves 10 disciplines. DEMOS investigates the phenomenon of populism through the lenses of democratic efficacy. The concept combines attitudinal features (political efficacy), political skills, knowledge, and democratic opportunity structures.  The concept, a novelty, is understood as as a condition of political engagement needed to address the challenges of populism. 

DEMOS addresses its hitherto under-researched aspects at micro-, meso-, and macro-levels: its socio-psychological roots, social actors’ responses to the populist challenge, and populism’s effects on governance. DEMOS focuses not only on the polity, but equally on citizens’ perspectives: how they are affected by, and how they react to, populism. Politically underrepresented groups and those targeted by populist politics are a particular focus. Examples include youth, women, and migrants. 

As populism has varying socially embedded manifestations, DEMOS aims at contextualising it through comparative analysis on the variety of populisms across Europe, including their historical, cultural, and socioeconomic roots, manifestations, and impacts. DEMOS develops indicators and predictors of populism and elaborates scenarios on the interactions of populism with social actors and institutions both at the national and the EU levels.

DEMOS combines in-depth research on populism and democratic efficacy with action research and pilot projects in order to develop lasting tools and timely policy recommendations. Project methods include experiments, deliberative polling, text mining, surveys, and legal analysis. DEMOS places strong emphasis on communication and productive interactions with a variety of stakeholders throughout the project, including policymakers, journalists, students, and the general public.



Centre for Social Sciences,
Hungarian Academy of Sciences







University of Hamburg

European Citizen Action Service, Brussels


Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan

University of Turin


Kaunas University of Technology

Glasgow Caledonian University



Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy


University of Amsterdam


School of Communication and Media, Bratislava

University of Copenhagen


Charles University, Prague

University of Barcelona


University for Business Engineering and Management

Pantheon-Sorbonne University, Paris 1



December 01, 2018 — November 30, 2021
(36 months)