New Threats to Democracy


This research focuses on new threats to democracy, with an emphasis on the inter-related challenges of radicalization, polarization, and political violence. In particular, using the most advanced tools of social science—surveys, survey experiments, and other methods—we seek to understand the economic, sociological, institutional, geographic, and cultural roots of radical right voting across advanced democracies. For example, what triggers radicalization processes? Why have radical right parties deepened their support with certain demographic groups? What explains the gender divide among radical right voting? What triggers spirals of polarization across political systems as political rivals begin to regard each other as not merely rivals but as existential threats? And what are polarization’s consequences for democracy? Finally, our research also seeks to understand the roots of political violence, investigating how social protest, voting and political violence interact.


Main content


The Mobilizing Effect of Party System Polarization. Evidence from Europe
Researchers: Fabio Ellger

Local Newspaper Decline and Political Polarization. Evidence from Germany 
Researchers: Fabio Ellger, Hanno Hilbig, Sascha Riaz and Philipp Tillmann

Countermobilization against Pegida
Researchers: Sebastian Hellmeier

Anti-corona protests and polarization 
Researchers: Sebastian Hellmeier and Simon Richter

"How Voters Respond to Presidential Assaults on Checks and Balances: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Turkey" Aytuğ Şaşmaz, Alper Yagci and Daniel Ziblatt, 2022, Comparative Political Studies. DOI: 10.1177/00104140211066216



"Wealth of Tongues: Why Peripheral Regions Vote for the Radical Right in Germany"
Researchers: Daniel Ziblatt, Hanno Hilbig, Daniel Bischof 

"The Gendered Persistence of Authoritarian Indoctrination"
Researchers: Daniel Ziblatt, Nourhan Elsayed, Sascha Riaz, Hanno Hilbig

Politicization of courts 
Researchers: Daniel Ziblatt, Fabio Ellger, Sebastian Hellmeier and Heiko Giebler


Political Violence

The Political Consequences of Crimes against Politicians. How Politically Motivated Crimes influence Representation 
Researchers: Jey Alizade, Fabio Ellger, Marius Grünwald, Thomas Tichelbaecker

The Electoral Consequences of Politically Motivated Crime
Researchers: Fabio Ellger