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Centre for Citizenship and Democracy

First Winter school Leuven - Montréal (15-22 January 2015)

The Winter School is organized jointly by the universities of Montréal and Leuven. The focus of the winter school is on elections and voting behaviour, two central topics in political science [More information].

We were honoured with the presence of HER Denis Robert, Ambassador of Canada to Belgium, at the welcome reception on 14 January

Vacancy for two post-doctoral researchers

To work on political participation and comparative study of political attitudes (2015-2017). [More information]

Dataset Net Volatility in Western Europe

Pedersen index of net volatility in legislative elections between 1950 and 2014 in Western Europe.

More information and download available on this page.


The stability and legitimacy of political systems requires the presence of strong linkage mechanisms between citizens and the political system(s) they live in. As the legitimacy of a democratic political system ultimately depends on the support it receives from its citizens, it is important to understand the sources and characteristics of this diffuse support. In the classical literature of the 1960s it was assumed that this support manifested itself in high levels of political trust and in participation in elite-directed forms of political participation. This kind of assessment, however, no longer is adequate to understand contemporary linkage systems between citizens and the state. Traditional linkage mechanisms, like elections or political parties, have lost some of their appeal, as voter turnout, party membership and party identification are declining in most Western countries. In the normative literature, it has been claimed that the presence of critical or vigilant citizens engaging in elite-challenging forms of participation is just as important for democratic quality as high levels of trust in political authorities.

The guiding idea of our research program is that linkage mechanisms between citizens and the state are being rapidly transformed, as a result of processes of social change like rising levels of education, an individualization of life style choices and trends toward multi-level governance. While there is a vast body of literature on the characteristics of traditional linkage mechanisms, we know less about the consequences of emerging forms of linkage.

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