Research / Projects


Shifting Territorial Politics after the Pandemic in Germany and Beyond (ShifTerr)

Principal investigator: dr. Ed Turner (Aston University)

Partners: Stuttgart University, University of Wroclaw – Jean Monnet Chair, University of Padova and American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS)

Duration: 2022–24

Funded by: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), budget 88 995 EUR


The over-arching question of this proposed project is the following: “How – if at all – has the pandemic re-shaped relationships between national and sub-state tiers of government, and the activity of sub-state authorities, in Germany and other European countries?”.  To address this question, the project assembles a major new international consortium, establishing a new international network of scholars and practitioners, with membership in the UK, Germany, Poland (at the Willy-Brandt-Centre for German Studies), and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, and also involving experts on Spain and Italy.  The network will meet (virtually and physically), have joint publication outputs and share expertise and data, both amongst its members, through academic publications and with the wider interested public.  It will allow a view of changed territorial politics in Germany to be understood in the context of wider European comparison (specifically with the UK, Spain, Italy and Poland).

Two sides of the same coin? Unraveling the potential of inter-parliamentary cooperation in the European Union (InPaCo)

Principal investigator: Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka

Duration: 2022-2025

Funded by: National Science Centre (NCN), budget 200 000 EUR


National parliaments (NPs) and the European Parliament (EP) are two sides of the same coin – the European Union’s (EU) representative democracy (as defined in art. 10 of the Treaty on European Union) – and have an important role to play in the EU multi-level governance system as legitimacy intermediaries. Yet, the unfulfilled potential of their cooperation is one of the factors behind the surge of Euroscepticism, populist parties as well as the general disenchantment of citizens with the grand idea of ‘European project’. At a time when the pandemic has increased social and economic inequalities across the EU and highlighted the mutual interconnectedness of European societies within the framework of health policy, single market, Economic and Monetary Union or environmental and energy policy, inter-parliamentary cooperation (IPC) is also an important legitimizing factor behind shaping EU policies and responses to public policy problems.

Neither the EP nor national parliaments alone are able to perform effectively the scrutiny, policy-shaping or agenda-setting function in the EU governance system. The EP does not have the tools to hold accountable the fragmented executive at the EU level, often lacking formal powers to veto, modify or even review decisions taken in the various intergovernmental fora. In contrast, each national parliament can oversee and sanction no more than one national government. There is also considerable variation in NPs ability to ‘fight back’ against the crisis-related trend of ‘deparliamentarisation’. Against this background effective IPC is expected to act as a remedy to the weaknesses of democratic accountability in the EU increasingly dominated by inter-governmentalism.

InPaCo starts from the observation of an important gap between the political relevance of IPC for democratic transformation of the EU and the deficit of theoretical and empirical research explaining the driving and inhibiting factors behind effective IPC. Consequently, the underlying objective of the project is to explore the potential of inter-parliamentary relations by identifying factors that foster and impede effective cooperation between national parliaments and the EP in the area of EU affairs. The first research objective is therefore to map and explain the hitherto unexplored institutional preferences of the EP and national parliaments with regard to mutual cooperation. The research questions the project poses are: 

  • Are the factors behind these preferences endogenous (i.e. related to political affiliation or nationality) or exogenous (i.e. determined by policy sectors or type of IPC)?
  • What preferences do the EP and national parliaments have with respect to potential reforms to strengthen IPC in the EU?

The second research objective of the project is to examine the impact of the recently concluded Conference on the Future of Europe, as well as its related follow-up, on interparliamentary dynamics in the EU. The research questions are: 

  • Did the CoFoE act as a driver or hindrance to IPC and why ?
  • Has it triggered any new forms of transnational parliamentarism in the EU?
  • In what areas have we seen improvement or deterioration of IPC and why ? 

Democracy in Pandemic Times: A Decline or a NEW Form of Representative Democracy? (PANDEMO)

Principal investigator: Aleksandra Maatsch

Duration: 2020–24

Funded by: National Science Centre (NCN), budget 460 000 PLN


With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, all national governments of the EU member states have found themselves in unusual circumstances. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the coronavirus as a pandemic on 11 March 2020. As there was no vaccine against the highly contagious virus, decision-makers across the EU member states opted for various preventive measures. For that reason it became common practice to limit – or freeze –economic, social and political activity. The success of these extraordinary measures in preventing the spread of the virus depended on rapid implementation.

Representative democracy is unthinkable without a parliament in which citizens’ interests are represented in the decision-making process. For a representative democracy to thrive, national parliaments need their capacity to control and to hold governments accountable and to debate and vote on legislative projects while also representing the variety of interests in the deliberative and law-making process. Parliaments are namely the institutional foundation of representative democracy. Despite that, the importance of national parliaments seems to have radically declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, most governments introduced preventive measures, sending all “non-essential” workers home. And so almost all national parliaments across the EU, and beyond, were… sent home. While most parliaments continued to work in a very limited extent, in Canada, for instance, the parliament closed for five weeks allowing only a short session to pass extraordinary legislation regarding the COVID-19. This trend raised serious concerns as it demonstrated to the public that national parliaments are non-essential in a crisis situation. Are we therefore witnessing a demise of representative democracy due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Or have national parliaments managed to defend their powers by adopting to new circumstances?

The overall goal of the project is therefore to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the legislative (law-making) powers and practices of national parliaments across the EU member states. The questions this project poses are:

  • Have we observed a change of formal powers or practices regarding the law-making function of national parliaments during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • What is the effect of the pandemic on parliamentary law-making powers and practices across the EU member states? In which states have we observed (a) disempowerment, (b) no change or (c) empowerment of national parliaments?
  • Which formal or informal measures have been employed by the governments of the EU member states under study? What was the legal basis of these measures? How can we evaluate their legality and legitimacy?
  • Are we witnessing a demise of representative democracy or a NEW form of representative democracy emerging?

The role of national parliaments in the post-pandemic EU policy-making

Project co-financed by LabEx TEPSIS & Universite Panthéon-Sorbonne

Principal co-investigators: Guillaume Sacriste, Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka and Antoine Vauchez

Duration: 2021- 2023

While the COVID-19 pandemic has increased social and economic inequalities across the EU, it has also highlighted the mutual interconnectedness of European societies within the framework of health policy, single market, Economic and Monetary Union or environmental and energy policy. Such context creates an opportune moment for national parliaments to step up their collective efforts and engage in a more effective inter-parliamentary cooperation in the sphere of EU affairs. As institutions representing multiple EU demoi, national parliaments have a direct mandate and prerogatives to co-shape the post-pandemic EU policies.  

Against this background, the aim of this project is to analyse the potential for the emergence of transnational parliamentarism in the EU by probing the positions of national parliamentarians with regard to EU governance  reforms post-COVID. It builds on a large-scale international survey conducted among MPs from 7 Member States and inquiring about parliamentary preferences related to a series of EU institutional and economic reforms including European Semester, EU tax policy or public investments.

National parliaments as ‘multi-arena players’ in the European Union?

Principal investigator: Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka

Duration: 2019–2022

Funded by: OPUS research grant financed by the National Science Centre (NCN) (grant number: 2018/29 /B/HS5/00085, Information)

National parliaments and EU decision-making transparency: The French socio-institutional and political perspective

Principal investigator: Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka

Duration: 2020–2021

Funded by: Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) pursued at the Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris, Bekker scholarship

Polish political parties in relations with the social environment – an analysis of organizational and communication strategies (2016 – 2020).

Principal investigator: Anna Pacześniak

Duration: 2016–2020.

Funded by: National Science Centre (NCN), programme Sonata Bis 5

The aim of the research was to analyse the activities of Polish political parties in terms of their organisational and communication activities (external and internal) in the context of the declining interest of citizens in participating in traditionally understood politics, the low level of public trust in political parties, competition from non-party political entities, dynamic and multidimensional social changes associated with the development of digital information and communication technologies (ITC). These phenomena affect the way political parties function and, theoretically, should be a determinant of major changes within political parties and at the interface between parties and their social environment, as well as a motivating factor for the search for new areas of organisational and communication activity. The main objective of the research was a multidimensional analysis of the changes taking place in Polish political parties and an assessment of their scope.

Quantitative and qualitative research was conducted from two perspectives: political science and communication studies. The project had a theoretical–cognitive character. The cognitive value of the project was to identify the barriers which prevent citizens from increasing their membership in political parties and the factors limiting political mobilisation.

Electoral defeat as a catalyst for change in European political parties

Principal investigator: Anna Pacześniak

Duration: 2018–2022

Funded by: National Science Centre (NCN), programme OPUS-14

The main objective of the project is to identify the factors influencing the nature, depth, scope and effects of political parties’ adaptation to the situation after losing parliamentary elections. In this context, both the influence of objective variables, such as the developmental phase of the party, the political status of the party prior to the defeat (whether it was a ruling party, co-ruling party, opposition party), and the influence of subjective variables, i.e. how the reasons for the unfavourable electoral outcome are perceived and interpreted by party decision-making bodies, are analysed. The combination of theoretical findings, results of qualitative research to be conducted in parties in Poland, Great Britain and Belgium, and quantitative research in parties from EU member states as well as Switzerland and Norway, will lead to the creation of a catalogue of relationships and correlations describing changes in political parties after electoral defeats. Implementation of the project will contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of European political parties in the context of their adaptation to impulses coming from the social environment (understood as granting or refusing support in parliamentary elections).

Electoral defeat is treated not so much as an effect of previous actions or omissions, but as a beginning, a catalyst for a process of change in a political party. Losing an election has numerous consequences for the party organisation, its political programme, leadership, parliamentarians, members, co-workers and supporters. To a greater or lesser extent, it changes the balance of power between factions, may lead to secession, or even the collapse of the party. Defeat often becomes an instrument for a new ordering of internal relations, it is a factor that triggers the internal circulation of elites, starting with the resignation of the current leader. As a rule, a change of leader destabilises the existing system of connections within the party, and may trigger not only a change in the way a political party is managed, but also new programme concepts.

A new research thread is the broadening of the perspective to include volitional-conscious factors, by linking intra-party changes with the subjective perception of changes occurring in the party environment by party decision-makers. This stems from the assumption that a party – in order to undertake ‘corrective’ measures – must not only objectively lose elections, but must also have a subjective sense of defeat. 

Determinants of stability and cohesion of Polish representation in the European Parliament

Principal investigator: Krysztof Zuba (University of Opole), team-member: Anna Pacześniak with Aleksandra Trzcielińska Polus

Duration: 2018–2022

Funded by: National Science Centre (NCN), programme OPUS-12

The aim of the conducted research is to determine the stability (variability) of Polish representation in the European Parliament (EP) and to determine the ideological, programmatic and operational coherence of Polish political parties within party groups in the EP in the years: 2004-2019.

The project formulated four hypotheses: 1) The level of political stability of Polish parties in the EP is conditioned not only by EP elections, but also by the results of parliamentary elections in Poland; 2) The level of personal stability of Polish parties in the EP is conditioned by the way candidates for MEPs are selected; 3) The ideological and programme coherence of Polish parties within the EP party groups is conditioned by ideological and programme differences between parties forming the EP party group; 4) The more pro-European a given Polish party is, the closer its programme and votes are to the programme and votes of other parties within the EP party group.

The project will contribute to a better understanding of the influence of political parties on the European integration process and the process of Europeanisation on political parties. It will allow a better understanding of the activities of Polish political parties in a supranational environment, broadening the understanding of the mechanisms of shaping the European political space. The results of the research will also provide answers to the question of the extent to which decisions and votes of MEPs are conditioned by membership in party groups in the EP and whether the observed programme and ideological differences between Polish parties in the EP are similar to those observed in the Polish Sejm.