Message from 2021-02-18

DANGER research project addresses political violence

DANGER research project addresses political violence

Professor at Witten/Herdecke University and recipient of an ERC Starting Grant amounting to 1.5 million euros investigates the danger of political violence for European democracies.

What can we do to improve the efficacy of vaccines? How can we predict our future climate? Are there any alternatives to endless economic growth? Recipients of ERC Starting Grants, awarded by the European Research Council (ERC), address these and other socially relevant issues.

Prof Nils-Christian Bormann from the Faculty of Management, Economics and Society, Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H), is one of the current grantees. His research project, titled ‘Democracy, Anger and Elite Responses (DANGER)’, investigates the danger of political violence for European democracies and how pro-democratic policy-makers may respond to these threats.

‘We will compare coalitions between exclusively pro-democratic parties with coalitions between pro-democratic and anti-democratic parties in the European interwar period (1919-1939). During this period, some democracies failed while others survived. Specifically, we will investigate the impact these different forms of coalition government had on political violence and whether they helped to maintain democracies. At a later stage, we apply our insights to contemporary European democracies. To this end, we have to collect new data on political violence and coalitions, develop new statistical models and conduct case studies,’ says Prof Bormann.

Political science meets history, economics and IT

The research project applies an interdisciplinary approach and integrates methods and insights from political science, history, economics and information technology. Prof Bormann therefore considers the project to fit very well in the context of the Department of Philosophy, Politics & Economics: ‘This interdisciplinary approach is what UW/H and the Department stand for. UW/H attracts open-minded, responsible and intellectually outstanding students. Small groups facilitate research-related teaching and enable us to closely involve students in projects like DANGER. At UW/H, I will also be able to fully focus on research for some time. This cannot be taken for granted at other universities, but is absolutely essential to excellence in science.’

The findings of the DANGER project, which runs for five years, will be published in leading international journals and compiled in a book.

Research excellence

The European Research Council (ERC), established by the European Union in 2007, is the first European body providing funding schemes for outstanding research. ERC Starting Grants target independent up-and-coming researchers of any nationality (between two and seven years post PhD or equivalent academic degree) with a successful scientific track record showing great promise.


Die Universität Witten/Herdecke ist durch das NRW-Wissenschaftsministerium unbefristet staatlich anerkannt und wird – sowohl als Institution wie auch für ihre einzelnen Studiengänge – regelmäßig akkreditiert durch: