Research Clusters

Parties, Elections, and Representation

The research axis on Parties, Elections, and Representation focuses primarily on institutions, the rules of the democratic game, and the main actors of representative democracy.

As regard institutions, researches focus on political regimes (presidential and parliamentary regimes), on the state structures (federalism, decentralisation, etc.), and on the central institutions of representative democracy: parliaments and governments. This translates into an expertise on legislative studies and the analysis of the formation, functioning and termination of governments. The expertise also lies in the challenges to representative democracy and the development of alternative mechanisms of decision-making such as direct democracy and citizen participation tools.

The second dimension of the research axis consists in the analysis of the rules of the democratic game, their origins, and their effects. This includes electoral rules, rules regarding electoral campaigns, the process of political competition, or the mechanisms of agenda-setting of political issues. This analysis of the rules of the game also focuses on the regulation political parties as central actors in representative democracies (conditions to establish, fund, and organise parties, etc.) and their internal functioning rules (party statutes).

Lastly, this research axis analyses political actors in representative democracies. On the one hand, the goal is to analyse and better understand the behaviour of collective actors (coalition partners, parliamentary party groups, political parties). On the other hand, the aim is to analyse attitudes, roles, and behaviours of individual actors: voters, party affiliates (sympathisers, members, activists, middle-level elites), candidates, elected representatives, and members of executive bodies.

These research interests are the major focus of various research projects and data collection endeavours. The research axis also organises a cycle of seminars mobilising national and international participants and guests.

This research axis has developed a strong expertise on Belgium but also adopts a comparative perspective with a specialisation on the following areas: North America, Latin America (Brazil and Mexico in particular), Europe, Russia and Caucasus.

Researchers involved : ANDRÉ Audrey, BEDOCK Camille, BEHM Anne-Sophie, BOIREAU Michaël, BRACK Nathalie, CLOSE Caroline, DE WAELE Jean-Michel, DELWIT Pascal, FLACCO Fernanda, GRIGNARD Guillaume, KELBEL Camille, LOUAULT Frédéric, NIKOLIC Louise, PAULIS Émilien, PILET Jean-Benoit, SANDRI Giulia, SIERENS Vivien, TOMINI Luca, VAN HAUTE ÉmilieWAVREILLE Marie-CatherineWILLOCQ Simon


European integration: community building and conflicting values

Research on EU studies within the Cevipol concentrates on the processes of cooperation, identification and conflict generated by European integration and their role in the legitimisation of the EU as a polity. Through in-depth analysis of European values and public policies as well as the communication strategies, attitudes and discourses of national and supranational actors, the aim is to provide innovative research on key concepts such as sovereignty, democracy and legitimacy in the context of European integration.

The role that values, ideas and norms play in European politics as issues, resources or obstacles is analysed at different levels.

The promotion and defence of common values are at the heart of the legitimation of the EU’s internal and external policies. These values lead, by definition, to diverging interpretations. They are mobilised by both actors who believe that the EU contributes to improving national democracies and by those who consider that it is a threat to national traditions and political systems. Research at the Cevipol is particularly interested in the conflicts generated by the non-respect of these values and, more specifically, the rule of law, by the Member States. Another area of research focuses on religion as a way to grasp the interactions between culture and politics at the transnational level. The aim is to understand the influence of religion in politics, policies as well as in the recruitment of EU elites.

Furthermore, the Eurozone crisis has brought socio-economic issues back at the centre of European debates. A strand of research conducted at the Cevipol is interested in how the coordination of socio-economic policies is legitimised by political actors, through competing discourses and values on concepts such as responsibility, discipline, solidarity and social justice. The management of national debts also led to the emergence of a new political order in which power relations between strong and weak Member States are more prominent. Through an analysis of how the new tools of governance (such as the European Semester) work and are legitimized, the objective is to comprehend the emergence of a post-democratic European federalism.

At the same time, the Eurozone crisis marked the beginning of a new phase of integration, characterised by a new wave of opposition to the EU and a mainstreaming of anti-EU discourse. Research carried out at the Cevipol analyses the attitudes, behaviours and strategies of Eurosceptic actors within supranational institutions. It aims at understanding the implications of this growing opposition to the EU and more widely, at examining the role of conflict in the legitimization of European democracy.

Finally, in terms of the EU’s external action, research conducted within this axis examines the making of the EU’s normative power in various national and international institutional arenas. These studies are particularly interested in the process of appropriation of the European values by political and social actors beyond the EU's borders and the role of religion in the EU’s external relations.

Researchers involved : BEHM Anne-Sophie, BOIREAU Michaël, BRACK Nathalie, CALLIGARO Oriane, CAPPELLINA Bartolomeo, CLEMENT Andrew, COMAN Ramona, CRESPY Amandine, DENUIT FrançoisDERONT Éva, FORET François, HAMM Marylou, KELBEL Camille, MONDO Émilie, SBARAGLIA Fanny, SOBOTOVA Alena, TOMINI LucaVAN HAUTE ÉmilieVANHEUVERZWIJN Pierre, WINTGENS Sophie


Sports and Politics

The research axis on Sports and Politics primarily analyses the relationship between the rules, institutions and practices in the political field and in sports. In that regard, two approaches can be identified: 1) to observe how politics enters sports, or the construction of sports as a political object; 2) to observe how sports enters the political field, or the influence of sports in the political space.

The activities developed in the framework of this research axis articulate these two approaches via an analysis of the processes of politicisation of sports and the use of sports in political competition.

Three research orientations are privileged:

  1. Sports as a channel of politicisation and expression of identity or dilution of social conflicts: politicisation or depoliticisation strategies, the role of sports in the settling of national identities and collective representations, pacific or violent supporter acts.
  2. The relation between sports and political careers: the political career of professional athletes, the mobilisation of sports figures during electoral campaigns, the comparison between the political game and sports game in their relation to performance and competition.
  3. Sports governance: public policies and funding of sports, actors in sports governance, reforms of sports institutions, relation between various institutional levels (local, national, international sports associations), or the organisation of sports events.

These research orientations are built around three definitions of “politics”: the political community (polity), the political game (politics), and public decision-making (policies). They translate into various research projects and data collection endeavours. The research axis also organises a cycle of seminars mobilising national and international participants and guests.

This research axis has developed a strong expertise on sports and politics in Belgium, but also adopts a comparative perspective with a specialisation on the following areas: Africa, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, and Russia.

Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, the research axis organises joint activities with other fields interested in sports: sociology, anthropology, economics, history, law, medicine, psychology, etc.

Researchers involved : DE WAELE Jean-Michel, DELWIT Pascal, GLORIOZOVA EkatarinaLOUAULT Frédéric


Identities, memory, mobilisations

Contemporary politics has witnessed the spectacular emergence of cultural issues at all levels (local, regional, national, or global). Identities and memory are used as resources or frames to justify political action. They contribute to structuring how to live together, but also mobilisations, processes of conflict and reconciliation.

The end of the cold war had led to the expected disappearance of ideologies and the emergence of a realist politics based on interests. This hypothesis has been shattered these last decades, with the resurgence of nationalism, the rise of religion as a major issue, the reactivation of tensions based on long-term memories and conflicting loyalties.

The European Union and Europe in general have been particularly touched by these phenomenon. The redefinition of borders after the fall of communism, and the processes of continental integration, modernisation, and democratisation, have been windows of opportunities for the politicisation of culture.

Researches in this axis study the effects of national, social, and religious identities on decision-making, mobilisation, and legitimation in the EU. The religious factor is analysed as a factor influencing the relation of European societies between themselves, and with the rest of the world and as an indicator of the singularity of Europe in a comparative perspective (with the USA and Asia, amongst other).

The multiple trajectories after the fall of communism and the development of numerous armed conflicts in the post-soviet space offer a laboratory to study identity and memory mobilisations. The emergence of political transactions in spheres priory controlled by the state shed light on how societies are recomposing themselves.

The combination of post-soviet transition and armed conflicts amplifies the reinterpretations of individual motives to political, military, or religious commitment. For instance, a study on veterans analyses their motivations for taking up arms, the modalities of the reintegration into civil life, the reconversion of funds acquired during the war.

The privileged areas of study are open or frozen conflict zones in Caucasus (Georgia / Abkhazia, Armenia / Karabakh, Chechnya) or diaspora (in Belgium and France in particular). The discourses and trajectories of former soldiers, memory entrepreneurs, or political officials are analysed via qualitative methods such as participant observation and in-depth interviews or biographies.

Reaserchers involved : ARANTES VirginieCALLIGARO Oriane, DE BARROSMargauxFORET François, GLORIOZOVA Ekatarina, GORON Coraline, LI YingMERLIN Aude, MONDO Émilie, VRYDAGH FannyWINTGENS Sophie, ZAYTSEVA Anna