TRS.20.034 – Revitalizing Democracy for Resilient Society

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 033 How robust is democracy, how much confidence does society have in it, and how can we make improvements in both cases?

There is a widespread feeling of discontent with the functioning of modern representative democracies. Dutch citizens still believe in the democratic ideal, but feel that politicians do not listen to them, and desire more influence in political decision-making. Many agree that to accommodate this, new instruments allowing citizens to participate more constructively need to be developed. The suggested democratic innovations include more use of plebiscitary instruments
(e.g. corrective referendums), deliberative instruments (e.g. citizen assemblies), or some blend of them (referred to as hybrid democratic innovations). Remarkably little systematic knowledge exists about the design and effects of different plebiscitary and deliberative instruments. This holds even more for hybrid democratic innovations, of which the scope and potential are underexplored. REDRESS – Revitalizing Democracy for Resilient Society – aspires to redress this. It systematically investigates and tests how hybrid democratic innovations can advance democratic responsiveness, citizens’ trust, and politicians’ support in a representative democracy with a tradition of consensus politics (‘polder model’). In the past, the few democratic innovations that took place were often hastily discontinued (e.g. advisory referendum, citizen forum electoral system). They were said to be at odds with representative institutions or malfunctioning in practice. Because crucial knowledge and implementation gaps still exist – and thus any future democratic innovation risks the same fate – REDRESS aims to close such gaps and map out more fruitful roads ahead. Through a process of design thinking, involving a broad coalition of stakeholders, REDRESS fleshes out which hybrid democratic innovations are most promising and how these innovations can be most effectively combined with representative democracy. The consortium brings together multiple sources of crucial expertise: leading academic researchers, field-knowledgeable practitioners, international experts, and specialists in knowledge dissemination.


citizen initiative, deliberative democracy, democratic governance innovation, hybrid design, plebiscitary democracy, public participation

Other organisations

LSA, Ministry BZK, Ministry IenW, ProDemos, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (RU), Rathenau Instituut, The Broker, Universiteit Twente (UT), Utrecht University (UU), VNG, WRR


Organisation Tilburg University (TiU)
Name Prof. dr. F. (Frank) Hendriks