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Enrique Hernández receives a Starting Grant for his DEMOTRADEOFF project

10 Jan 2022
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Lecturer of the Department of Political Science at the UAB Enrique Hernández receives a Starting Grant from the ERC to develop the project DEMOTRADEOFF, on the attitudes of citizens towards democracy tradeoffs.

Enrique Hernández

Enrique Hernández, lecturer of the Department of Political Science at the UAB, has received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to develop the DEMOTRADEOFF project. In this edition of the call, a total of 397 young researchers will receive grants under the Horizon Europe programme, with a total funding of 619 million euros for projects of excellence.

Enrique Hernández is lecturer of the Department of Political Science at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He completed a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute in 2016. Enrique’s main research interests are political attitudes, public opinion, electoral behaviour, and democracy. His work has been published injournals such as Political Analysis, the European Journal of Political Research, Electoral Studies, the European Political Science Review, the European Union Politics, and Research & Politics. In 2021, he received the “GESIS Klingemann Prize for the Best CSES Scholarship” for his work on affective polarisation.


Democracies involve tradeoffs since all their desirable qualities cannot be simultaneously maximized. Hard choices must be made in order to balance democratic principles such as popular sovereignty and the rule of law, or freedom and political equality. These tradeoffs would not be problematic as long as citizens and political leaders were open to compromising and accepting that democracy requires a delicate balancing of virtues. The politicisation of these tradeoffs in recent events such as Brexit or Poland’s judicial reform suggests that this is likely not the case. However, we still know very little about the positions of citizens and parties regarding democratic tradeoffs; how these contribute to citizens’ increasing discontent with democracy; how the rising politicisation of the tradeoffs of democracy may exacerbate these dynamics; and whether it is possible to curb this process.

To investigate these questions this project elaborates a conceptual map of democratic tradeoffs and empirically examines citizens’ preferences and parties’ positions on them; it analyses the determinants of citizens’ democratic tradeoff preferences, and how the interplay between these preferences and parties’ politicisation of these tradeoffs affects individuals’ support and satisfaction with democracy; and it examines how citizens can be reconciled with the idea that some democratic qualities cannot be simultaneously maximised.

The empirical analysis focuses on 15 European countries and implements an integrative multi method approach combining cross-sectional and panel surveys, content analysis, and experiments.

New paths for the study of political culture

The proposed project breaks new theoretical and methodological ground in the study of political culture. It brings the inherent tensions of democracy to the forefront and develops new tools for the measurement of tradeoff preferences and their consequences.