The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Nikolai Sørensen

Postgraduate Research Student

Background

Project Title   
Digitalising European party politics: A democratic revolution in collective decision making?

Description of Research Project

Since the financial crisis, Europe has seen a number of new political parties emerge which differ from traditional political parties in a number of ways. These parties typically have roots in social movements that emerged in the aftermath of the financial crisis and they have quickly gained considerable electoral success. They promote democratic reform and a new way of doing politics which relies on more direct input from party members and citizens. Finally, these parties and movements are highly technologically savvy and rely heavily on digital media for policy formation, decision making, organisation, and coordination of political action. Examples of such parties includes Podemos in Spain, Píratar in Iceland, the Five Star Movement in Italy and Alternativet in Denmark.

This is an interesting development considering the democratic malaise that most democratic societies have faced in recent decades in terms of declining trust in democratic institutions, political parties, and politicians, despite strong support for the concept of democracy. So far, many democratic innovations has been successful on a micro level, but scaling them up – both in terms of size and impact – has turned out to be much more difficult. Furthermore, since the advent of the Internet in the early 1990's the great democratic potential of digital media has been highlighted repeatedly, but so far this democratic potential seems unfulfilled. These emerging political parties are interesting because they could possibly address both of these problems, using digital technologies to bridge the gap between governors and the governed.

Through a case study of one of these new parties, in particular Alternativet from Denmark, the aim of this PhD project is to explore how the use of digital technologies, to involve members and citizens in policy formation and decision making in emerging political parties across Europe, enable, challenge, shape and limit notions of democratic participation within these parties. Furthermore the project will explore opportunities for designing digital tools that better meet the needs of political parties that want to involve members more directly in policy formation and decision making.

Qualifications and Achievements

  • 2015: MRes in Digital Civics - Newcastle University
  • 2014: MSc in Digital Design and Communication - IT University of Copenhagen
  • 2011: BSc in Political Science - University of Copenhagen

Teaching

I am teaching or have taught on the following modules:
  • POL 2081: Research Methods in Politics
  • CSC1026 : Website Design and Construction
  • POL2093: Politics, Participation and Citizenship in the Digital Age