Carolina Plescia about Democracy

The meanings of voting

9. February 2022 by Magdalena Reichinger, Hanna Möller
Many countries all over the world are facing democratic backsliding. Social scientist Carolina Plescia is taking a closer look at this phenomenon by investigating the meanings of voting.
© Magdalena Reichinger

In her ERC Starting Grant project, Carolina Plescia is investigating what voting means to citizens. This issue is of particular importance in consideration of the growing distrust in the election procedure itself as well as in the democratic institutions in many countries of the world.

The psychology of voting

The social scientist develops a new typology of meanings and motivations for participating in elections. This way, she intends to introduce new concepts and indicators to election research to make the election procedure itself more understandable. Studying what voting means for citizens in a variety of countries promises to provide a ground-breaking understanding of citizens’ conceptualisations of representation. In addition, it allows us to understand the psychology of voting that can challenge conventional knowledge of participation and of voting. Moreover, it can result in practical implications for how elections are run and administered.

Outside of democratic systems

Plescia also investigates so-called autocracies in Europe and beyond (e.g. Hungary and Russia). This allows to additionally gain new insights into elections outside of democratic systems. The project results are, therefore, an important basis for (re-)assessing elections and electoral systems. Moreover, the results allow to scrutinise previous interpretations of elections by media and politicians.

The project is hosted by the Department of Government at the University of Vienna, "a vibrant political science department dedicated to excellence in research and teaching, a relaxed social atmosphere, and located in one of the world's best cities", says Plescia. (hm)

Carolina Plescia is Assistant Professor of Digital Democracy at the Department of Government at the University of Vienna. She completed her PhD at Trinity College Dublin and worked at the Department of Political and Social Science at the University of Bologna. In July 2020, Carolina Plescia has been awarded an ERC grant to examine the meanings of voting. She is at the same time a Hertha Firnberg Fellow of the FWF and Deputy Director of the H2020 project RECONNECT, which investigates EU citizens' attitudes towards democracy and the rule of law. Her research interests include comparative electoral behaviour, coalition governments, representation and research methodologies.