RESPOND – Rescuing Democracy from Political Corruption in Digital Societies

RESPOND – Rescuing Democracy from Political Corruption in Digital Societies

Project Description

The research project RESPOND – Rescuing Democracy from Political Corruption in Digital Societies, starting in May 2024

Funded by the Horizon Europe programme, the project sheds light on the corruption and undue influence that undermine the quality of democracy.

How exactly does political corruption work in today’s digital societies? How pervasive is its negative impact on democracy? And how can anti-corruption efforts rebuild people’s support for democracy as a regime and encourage their commitment to integrity and their rejection of undemocratic proposals and actions?

RESPOND addresses these key challenges for democracy by investigating the phenomenon of political corruption and undue influence in digital societies and proposing solutions to counter it. The project continues the European Union’s efforts to ensure the strength of democracy and restore civil society’s confidence in democratic values.

RESPOND does this through a novel interdisciplinary assessment of political corruption, understood here as behaviors and actions that often proliferate in grey areas of legality, leading to biased decision-making and exclusion in the political cycle. Based on a mixed-methods research design, RESPOND examines 27 EU countries and 11 neighboring countries to achieve four ambitious objectives:

  1. Analyze four contemporary and relevant forms of political influence (political finance, lobbying, revolving doors/personal ties, and media capture) to understand when they become problematic forms of influence linked to specific patterns of political corruption, undermining fair competition and broad participation in political decision-making processes.
  2. Evaluate how political elites and citizens understand political corruption and how it is socially constructed through media and education, as well as its implications for both the legitimacy and credibility of democracy and responses to it.
  3. Explore how established and emerging digital technologies are intertwined with political corruption and how they enhance anti-corruption and pro-integrity strategies at both national and transnational levels.
  4. Engage in co-creation with relevant stakeholders to design, test and revise practices and tools, including new risk indicators developed by RESPOND, to improve citizen monitoring and integrity in contemporary democracies.

The project will run for 5 years and is coordinated by the University of Bologna in Italy.

The other partners in the consortium are:

S-Com’s role in Respond is to coordinate the communication, dissemination and exploitation of the project and to support the partners in the co-creation process.


01/05/2024 - 01/05/2029

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