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Varieties of Democracy Project Awarded European Commission Funding

October 19, 2012• Elizabeth Rankin

The Varieties of Democracy project (V-Dem), an ambitious international research collaboration based in the US at Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, has been awarded €475,000 (about $616,500) in research support from the European Commission.

Led by Notre Dame political scientist Michael Coppedge, Staffan I. Lindberg of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and John Gerring of Boston University, the multiyear project aims to produce better indicators of democracy, helping to illuminate why democracies around the world succeed or fail.

VDEMV-Dem researchers are gathering data on 400 aspects of democracy in every country in the world from 1900 to the present. The data will be freely available to anyone interested in democracy: researchers, development agencies, international organizations, activists, and journalists.

“V-Dem is designed to tap into neglected dimensions of democracy, in addition to the electoral and liberal versions of democracy favored in the US. It will give researchers essential tools for understanding how democracies are born and why they survive or not,” said Coppedge.

“When complete, V-Dem data will be the world’s most detailed, global, and historically comprehensive dataset on democracy. The European Commission funding gives the project a huge boost. It puts us over the halfway mark in our effort to secure funding to include the whole world.”

The core research team of V-Dem includes a dozen other scholars in the US, Sweden, Chile, and Denmark as well as the input of nearly 2,000 country experts around the world. At Notre Dame, political science graduate students Cecilia Lero and Krystin Krause are assisting Coppedge as project coordinators while 26 undergraduates serve as research assistants.

To further collaboration, co-PI John Gerring spent academic year 2011–12 in residence as a Kellogg Institute visiting fellow and another core collaborator, David Altman, is a visiting fellow this semester.

Coppedge and his Kellogg Institute research team are currently focusing on data collection by more than 150 experts on eight countries: Algeria, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Jordan, Libya, Palestine, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The European Commission funding covers data collection in 40 countries, a series of country and thematic reports using the preliminary data, and support for faculty, research assistance, and administrative expenses at both home institutions: the Kellogg Institute in the United States and the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg in Europe. It also supports programming by the Center for Research Computing at Notre Dame.

Other funding for V-Dem, covering data collection in more than 80 additional countries, has been provided by the Kellogg Institute and the Office of the Vice-President for Research at Notre Dame, the University of Gothenburg, the Research Council of Norway, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Denmark, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond of Sweden, and the Quality of Government Institute.

Contact:  Michael Coppedge, 574-631-7036 or coppedge.1@nd.edu

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