Skip to main content

Research highlights

Research highlights

The research undertaken by members of the Centre for Democratic Engagement examines different forms of democratic engagement, participation and activism at local, national and global levels. Researchers at the Centre study and comment on current democratic challenges such as growing political polarisation, incivility, populism and disinformation, but we are also interested in potential opportunities and solutions, including new forms of citizen engagement, democratic reform of political parties, and innovative tools for online citizen engagement. In so doing, we seek to analyse and interpret the complex and contradictory developments that currently shape the terrain of democratic politics, in what for many is a turbulent and confusing political moment.


A selection of some of our current funded projects:

Petitioning and People Power in Twentieth-Century Britain

"Petitioning and People Power in Twentieth-Century Britain",  AHRC, 2020-2023.

This project aims to explore how petitioning developed throughout the twentieth century, exploring the relationship between direct, participatory and representative democracy.

CDE Co-Director Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira is Co-Investigator on this project led by PI Professor Richard Huzzey (History, Durham University).

A Global Comparative Ethnography of Parliaments, Politicians and People

"A Global Comparative Ethnography of Parliaments, Politicians and People: representation, relationships and ruptures", European Research Council, 2019-24.

This project will develop an ethnography of five parliaments (Brazil, Fiji, India, UK and US), with a focus on communication between institution and Members, and public(s).

Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira is Co-Investigator on this project led by PI Professor Emma Crewe (Anthropology, SOAS).

"Inclusivity and Engagement: children and the democratic process"

"Inclusivity and Engagement: children and the democratic process", ESRC WRDTP Collaborative PhD with the UK Parliament, 2020-24.

This interdisciplinary project, between politics and education, explores whether institutional political engagement programmes aimed at young people promote inclusivity in the way children are introduced to democratic rights and processes.

Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira is Supervisor, together with Dr Paula Clarke (Education, University of Leeds).

Prime Ministerial Leadership in Japan and the UK

"Prime Ministerial Leadership in Japan and the UK: Source of Power and Influence", ESRC.

This project aims to address questions surrounding Prime Ministerial leadership in two leading parliamentary systems, the UK and Japan, that have often been overlooked in the comparative literature. It aims to explore the changing nature and role of UK and Japanese Prime Ministers since the turn of the millennium as each country has faced the challenges of the global financial crisis, domestic political and economic problems, and rising traditional and non-traditional security threats. 

Dr Timothy Heppell is involved in the project to provide expertise on the UK Prime Minister. The main publication output from this project will be a special issue of Asian Journal of Comparative Politics, in which Dr Heppell will contribute two papers.

Understanding normative change to address the climate emergency

"Understanding normative change to address the climate emergency", UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, 2021-25.

This research focuses on social climate mitigation solutions and specifically on how we can accelerate social change in response to the climate crisis, harnessing the power of norms. It looks at norm entrepreneurs such as Fridays for Future that have triggered a normative change, which has the potential to change policies and behaviours.

Dr Viktoria Spaiser is the holder of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and Dr Nicole Nisbett is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on this project.


The fight for the souls of Labour and the Conservatives

    Blair’s jettisoning of the Labour Party’s Clause IV in 1995 marked his commitment to constructing an updated, left of centre, political consensus. His...

Social Media and the Subscription Subject

Paul Geyer   There is a burgeoning element of social media: subscription services. One might assume that Elon Musk’s announcement of “Twitter Blue” was the...

Immigration control and Denmark's liberal democracy  

  Dr Mette Wiggen   It came as a surprise to many Scandinavians that the right wing extremist Rasmus Paludan was refused entry to Britain...

View all Posts


Dr Eike Rinke is our new co-director

The CDP is delighted to announce that Dr Eike Rinke has joined as our new co-director. Eike will be working alongside Dr Richard Hayton to...

Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira's research shapes parliamentary practice

Together with officials at the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru), Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira has co-organised the first ever meeting of the Petitions teams of the four...

New Article by Dr Nicole Nisbett and Dr Viktoria Spaiser published in Frontiers in Climate

Dr Nicole Nisbett and Dr Viktoria Spaiser from POLIS have had their article – “How convincing are AI-generated moral arguments for climate action?” – published...

View all News


When Ordinary Citizens Become Activists: Feminist Responses to Gender Violence during the Egyptian Revolution

On 13th June, the University of Leeds will host Yasmin El-Rifae, the author of Radius: A Story of Feminist Revolution. In...

Guest lecture summary | 1973: A Critical Year in Latin America

On 20th April 2023, we invited Professor Rodrigo Patto Sá Motta to talk about the democracy in Southern Cone Latin America. In the context of the fiftieth anniversary of the Chilean military coup d’etat of 1973, Rodrigo’s lecture focused on the region’s experience of state terror under military-authoritarian regimes and the way their institutional legacies have shaped the nature of democracies today.

Guest lecture | 1973: A Critical Year in Latin America

The Centre for Democratic Politics is delighted to be hosting a guest lecture from Professor Rodrigo Patto Sá Motta on...

View all Events