Research Agenda: Democracy


Research here is devoted to general questions of democracy in Austria and beyond. This concerns the state of democracy in Austria both at the national but also local level. An important and more recent concentration lies on the question of how citizens understand democracy and what political consequences such an understanding has. Despite numerous empirical studies on democracy, there is always the question of what people actually think, as the results of surveys are often contradictory and open to different interpretations. Not only are there numerous conceptions of democracy, but the concepts themselves are often defined by experts and difficult for citizens to understand, so that surveys run the risk of measuring elite constructs or eliciting answers from respondents that they think are desirable. In this context, scholars of comparative Austrian politics continue to publish articles in leading international journals. Research in this area also draws on several original surveys and survey experiments, which provide an important empirical basis. This research agenda was launched with organizing the ECPR Joint Sessions 2021 Workshop “New Frontiers in Democracy Research: Tackling a Conceptual and Methodological Impasse”?.

A major research focus also lies on the relationship between European integration and national democracy. More specifically, the relations between the EU and national political parties and parliaments as well as the impcat of crises on the legitimacy of EU decision-making are investigated. The following questions are of primary interest: How have national parliaments and parties been responding to the challenges posed by European integration? How can we explain changes over time and variation across actors? How have national democracies been coping with the challenges posed by events like the Eurozone- or the Covid-19 crises and measures like the European Semester or the EU Recovery Fund introduced in response to these crises? What are the factors that determine whether EU-wide crises are likely to foster or impede the legitimacy of decision-making in the European Union?


Key Publications




Journal Articles


  • Heinisch, Reinhard / Annika Werner (2022). How rational are voters when expecting government parties to fulfil pledges? A cross-national survey experiment, in: European Journal of Political Research (early view).


  • Dolezal, Martin (2021). Die österreichische Protestarena im neuen Jahrtausend: Mobilisierungsstärke, Aktionsformen und Themen, 1998–2016, in: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 50(2), 1-13.
  • Habersack, Fabian / Reinhard Heinisch / Armin Mühlböck / Viktoria Jansesberger (2021). Perceived Deprivation and Voter Turnout in Austria: Do Views on Social Inequality Moderate the Deprivation-Abstention Nexus?, in: Political Studies (published online 03/11/2021).
  • Maatsch, Aleksandra / Eric Miklin (2021). Representative Democracy in Danger? The Impact of Populist Parties in Government on the Powers and Practices of National Parliaments, in: Parliamentary Affairs, 74(4), 761-769.
  • Miklin, Eric / Martin Dolezal (2021). Positive Side Effects? The Impact of Populist Radical Right Parties in Government on the Media Visibility of the Austrian Parliament, in: Parliamentary Affairs, 74(4), 853-870.
  • Woźniakowski, Tomasz P. / Aleksandra Maatsch / Eric Miklin (2021). Rising to a Challenge? Ten Years of Parliamentary Accountability of the European Semester, in: Politics and Governance, 9(3), 96-99.


  • Heinisch, Reinhard / Thomas Lehner / Armin Mühlböck / Christian H. Schimpf (2018). How do Municipal Amalgamations Affect Turnout in Local Elections? Insights from the 2015 Municipal Reform in the Austrian State of Styria, in: Local Government Studies, 44(4), 465-491. 04/05


  • Fallend, Franz / Reinhard Heinisch (2016). Collaboration as successful strategy against right-wing populism? The case of the centre-right coalition in Austria 2000–2007, in: Democratization, 23(2), 1-21. https://Doi:10.1080/13510347.2015.1060223.
  • Heinisch, Reinhard / Armin Mühlböck (2016). Auf die Größe kommt es an! Neue empirische Evidenz zur Wahlbeteiligung in Gemeinden, in: Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 10, 165-190.

Book Chapters


  • Dolezal, Martin / Dietmar Halper / Klaus Poier (2022). Kampagneneffekte durch persönliche Kontakte? Ergebnisse eines im Rahmen der oberösterreichischen Landtagswahl 2021 in Wels durchgeführten Wahlkampfexperiments, in: Andreas Khol / Stefan Karner / Wolfgang Sobotka / Bettina Rausch / Günther Ofner (eds.): Österreichisches Jahrbuch für Politik 2021, Vienna, 477-483.
  • Heinisch, Reinhard / Susanne Rhein (2022). Narrativ gegen die Angst um die Demokratie: die institutionalistische Perspektive, in: Christoph Kühberger / Reinhard Heinisch / Reinhard Klaushofer / Margit Reiter (eds.):  Demokratie nach 1945: Perspektiven auf Geschichte, Politik und Recht in Österreich, Vienna-Cologne-Weimar: Böhlau, 169-199.



  • Dolezal, Martin (2019). From Party State to Movement Society? Conventional and Unconventional Democratic Practices in Austria, 1974–2018, in: Günter Bischof / David M. Wineroither (eds.): Democracy in Austria, Contemporary Austrian Studies, Bd. 28, New Orleans-Innsbruck: UNO Press / Innsbruck University Press, 137-155.
  • Dolezal, Martin (2019). Libertäre und autoritäre Positionen im österreichischen Parteiensystem: die Nationalratswahlkämpfe von 1945 bis 2013, in: Martin Dolezal / Peter Grand / Berthold Molden / David Schriffl (eds.): Sehnsucht nach dem starken Mann? Autoritäre Tendenzen in Österreich seit 1945, Wien-Köln-Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 117-226.