Arjan Schakel wins large BFS Starting Grant

The Bergen Science Foundation has awarded Arjan Schakel a highly competitive Starting Grant of 20 million Norwegian Krones (more than 2 million euros) for his project ‘Strengthening Regional Democracy – Contributing to Good Democratic Governance’. The grant will enable Arjan to set up a Centre on Regional Democratic Governance and to establish a team of two postdocs, one PhD, and one research assistant at the University of Bergen in Norway.

Arjan’s project sets out to study when and how regional reform contributes to good democratic regional governance. Regional reform is constantly debated and implemented across the whole of Europe without knowing what the impacts of reforms will be. Despite an undeniable trend towards multilevel democracy, regions are hardly studied. To remedy these lacunae in our knowledge Arjan’s team will identify the causal mechanisms underlying the regional vote and assess the impact of regional voting on regional parliaments and executives. A PhD will assemble a Comparative Regional Government Dataset which includes socio-economic indicators, institutional rules, aggregate election results, behavioral indicators of representatives and executives, and regional reforms, for 392 regions nested in 23 European countries for 1950 to 2020. One postdoc will merge 410 regional elections surveys conducted in 68 regions in 8 countries into a Comparative Regional Voter Dataset. Another postdoc will field questions to a Panel of Regional and Local Voters and a Panel of Regional and Local Politicians innovated by this project and maintained by the Digital Social Science Core Facility (DIGSSCORE) based in Bergen.

Arjan will also establish a Centre on Regional Democratic Governance (CREDGOV) which will expand, consolidate, and disseminate knowledge on regional democracy and which aims to become the world leading institute on regional democratic governance. CREDGOV’s team will organise policy seminars and workshops, write a policy report on best practices in regional democracy, and provide policy advice on regional reforms. CREDGOV’s website will host the Observatory on Regional Democracy which will feature policy blogs and a data download portal.

Arjan Schakel is very happy that his project has been granted after a very tight selection process. Arjan received his plaque during an award ceremony in the aula of the University of Bergen on Friday 7 December 2018.

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