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MEDem Monitoring Electoral Democracy - a proposed infrastructure: Why? When? How?

November 28, 2018

GESIS, Cologne

Mark Franklin


In 2007 the EU’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation funded an Infrastructure Design Study, under their FP7 programme, entitled Providing an Infrastructure for Research on Electoral Democracy in the European Union (PIREDEU). The resulting design was “field-tested” in a study of the European Parliament (EP) elections of 2009 -- seen as providing a convenient microcosm for the universe of continuously unfolding national elections held in EU member countries. Under its new title, Monitoring Electoral Democracy (MEDem, pronounced “m’dem”) submitted applications for national support to ESFRI national delegations in 2017. My talk will focus on the problems that MEDem seeks to solve, the manner in which solutions will be sought, and the outcomes in terms of scientific knowledge that are anticipated. Our ultimate goal is a research tool that will enable scholars to address research questions that arise from worrying developments that have recently beset European governance, associated especially with new departures in media usage and with unconventional candidacies. Three examples are: (a) when do citizens believe “fake news” and how does it influence their choices? (b) Under what conditions can a party leader benefit from being largely unknown? (c) When can party leaders hope to influence voters and when should they bow to voter demands? To answer these questions and others like them scientists need data capturing the evolution of public opinion, media coverage, policy responses, and parties' campaign strategies over time in the context of sufficient instances of different media outlets, different party systems, and different party leaders. A single country perspective cannot meet this need but the potential for addressing it already exists, locked away by the particularities of country-specific data-collection instruments and coding schemes. The proposed infrastructure will harmonize these data, unlocking the hidden value in existing data and boosting the payoff from future research.

About the Speaker

Mark Franklin is Professor Emeritus at Trinity College Connecticut (USA) and co-convener of the Harvard Center for European Studies Elections Monitor. He previously spent 20 years at the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) and 10 years at the University of Houston (USA); also teaching at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and the universities of Chicago, and Iowa (USA). He has held retirement positions at the European University Institute (Italy), the Universities of Canberra and Sydney (Australia) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA). A past Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, Franklin chaired the Steering Committee of the infrastructure design study Providing an Infrastructure for Research on Electoral Democracy in the European Union (PIREDEU), founded the Consortium for European Research with Election Studies (CERES), served as advisor to French, Italian, and Canadian election studies; and chairs the British Election Study Advisory Board. He has published 25 books and innumerable scholarly articles.