Democratic Participation and Deliberation: Institutional Socio-Political Intermediaries (parties and associations), Ideological Changes and Political Behaviour
This project will involve the new problems associated with political and social participation, such as the rising trend in electoral abstention, political disaffection, the new forms of participation and the broadening of the democratic deliberation process. It will involve empirical EXPERIMENTATION in Portugal but we shall try to contextualize these questions within the European sphere, giving special attention to a comparison with Spain (an agreement exists with the researchers in CAES at Complutense University). Let us examine the different research lines: 1. The rising trend of electoral abstention in Portugal and other European countries. The explanations provided by the literature on the subject indicate the disappearance of political anchors (party and ?left/right? identities), the lack of interest in politics, growing individualism and, on the other hand, narrowing social and political divergences. It is useful to examine these explanations in depth, particularly the lack of interest in politics, and to explore others: globalization and withdrawal of the state from intervention, which has a tendency to neutralize the play in politics; the political parties? difficulties in transposing social problems to the political arena; and the way the parties themselves operate on an internal level and in their relations with the citizens and the media. It is also of interest to consider the cases of female political participation and the youth. 2. An analysis of the involvement of the agents in the voluntary associations and its democratic effects. The hypothesis to be tested: to ascertain if the different effects of association involvement (civic virtues, participative capacities, social trust, political integration) depend on the type of association in question. 3. An analysis of the change in political values and the implications: for the political behaviour of individuals and, possibly, the orientation of the parties. Have new security threats affected attitudes towards the participation of minority groups? Have they brought about new connections between political values? What is the impact of the change in political values on the political parties? 4. The final question is about the changes in the public sphere and the broadening of the deliberation process.