Reclaiming Liberal Democracy in Europe (RECLAIM)

In recent years, it has become clear that what is frequently described as post-truth politics will be one of the central challenges facing liberal democracy in the 21st century. This project addresses the implications of this challenge. Drawing on a multi-disciplinary approach, the project will generate a conceptual definition as well as an operationalization and empirical indicators for the analysis of post-truth politics; spell out the ways in which post-truth politics constitutes an existential threat to liberal democracy; analyze the state of play as regards various dimensions of post-truth politics in Europe; and use its own empirical findings regarding the state of play to develop policy recommendations, methods and toolkits as to how best to respond to various expressions of the phenomenon. The project is structured along a temporal and a thematic axis. On the temporal axis, the project will proceed in three consecutive phases, i.e. a methodological-conceptual, an empirical-analytical and a critical-advisory phase. On the thematic axis, the project is divided into nine academic work packages that address central components of post-truth politics from the perspective of preconditions (how such phenomena have come about), expressions (how they manifest themselves in political processes), and potential responses (how their effects can and ought to be mitigated). The project’s academic work packages address post-truth politics from the vantage points of populism, public sphere dynamics and impacts on political culture; the role of technological aspects in fostering the rise of post-truth politics; the twin roles of lack of trust, but at the same time also increased demands for quality journalism; strategic disinformation as an external challenge to liberal democracy; the impacts of regulatory responses to disinformation; and importantly also the role that citizenship education and media literacy can play in mitigating the challenge of post-truth politics.

The European Commission's HORIZON-CL2-2021-DEMOCRACY-01 (Protecting and nurturing democracies) call aims to fund research and innovation activities in the field of democracy. Funded projects will contribute to produce theoretically and empirically robust visions for the future of liberal democratic institutions and reflect upon and actualise what liberal democracy means in the 21st century in Europe. It should also develop recommendations, toolkits, narratives and methodologies to reinstate the legitimacy and effectiveness of liberal democracies.