Advocacy in Digital Democracy: Use, Impact and Democratic Consequences (ADVODID, ERC Consolidator Grant)

Digital technology has fundamentally changed the action repertoire of political campaigning and advocacy in the last decade. Despite its fundamental role in contemporary political strategy and potential to affect the quality of democracy, there is still little systematic evidence to assess and compare the real effects of online and offline advocacy tools. ADVODID will implement the first large-scale quantitative project designed to provide rich correlational and causal evidence on the effects of advocacy on citizens and policymakers, in both online and offline settings. It sets out to address – theoretically and empirically – the potentials and challenges for modern democracies that arise from digital advocacy tools. Its novelty lies in analyzing the use, impact and democratic consequences of digital advocacy strategies by assessing interactions of advocacy groups with both citizens and political representatives in a diverse set of eight countries (Australia, Chile, Denmark, India, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US). ADVODID will collect data on the advocacy agenda and strategy use of carefully sampled advocates in these countries, and will assess agenda congruence with political and public agendas, and their dynamic development over time. Correlational analyses of different measures of advocacy success will be complemented by field experiments in cooperation with advocates in two countries, to supply causal evidence on how advocacy affects the positions and actions of policymakers and citizens. The project’s rich datasets will be used to assess and refine theories of democratic representation and the role of digital advocacy across different types of policy issues. ADVODID will greatly advance understanding of how modern advocacy impacts its target audiences and potentially changes participatory democracy. Its findings will have interdisciplinary and social relevance and inform ways to strengthen representative democracy in an online age. The project is funded by an ERC consolidator grant awarded to Anne Rasmussen.

Social Media & Political Representation (SoMeRep)

Social media has revolutionized the practice of politics and is increasingly used by politicians and citizens to discuss policy. SoMeRep examines what the shift toward social media means for (inequality in) democratic representation by using the latest innovations in social data science. It investigates how social media impacts civic engagement, political responsiveness and discourse. Original survey data from citizens and politicians is linked to their social media feeds to study the determinants of social media (and offline) activity and the responsiveness of politicians to constituents online. Moreover, SoMeRep examines how electoral incentives affect politicians’ social media behavior. Finally, it conducts field experiments to examine how the gender and ethnicity of social media users affect the level of incivility underrepresented groups face in political discourse. SoMeRep has interdisciplinary and societal relevance and informs ways to strengthen representative democracy.  The project started early 2021 and is funded by a DFF II grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research awarded to Anne Rasmussen (PI), Gregory Eady (Copenhagen), Jørgen Bølstad (Oslo) and Andreu Casas (Amsterdam). 

When Does Government Listen to the Public? (GovLis) (information on project, team and publications on project website)

In democracies, a central concern is whether government policy is responsive to citizen preferences. GovLis aims at extending our existing knowledge of political responsiveness by linking data on interest groups, public opinion and decision-making. It explores how a) interest groups, b) differences in the character of the debated policies/issues, and c) institutional differences between countries affect whether public opinion is translated into policy. The project has support from a four-year Sapere Aude Grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research and a five-year VIDI grant from the Nederlands Organisation for Scientific Research awarded to Anne Rasmussen. More information about GovLis can be found on

Intereuro (INTEREURO)

The main purpose of INTEREURO was to get a more comprehensive theoretical and empirical understanding of the role interest groups play in the European polity. We examined the strategies that they use for influencing political decision-making, their impact on outcomes and their networks. The project was supported by the European Science Foundation and included more than 20 scholars from a wide variety of European countries as well as North America. The Dutch project component aimed at mapping and analyzing the EU population of interest groups across space and time. This component was funded by a grant from the Dutch national science foundation (NWO) awarded to David Lowery (Penn State/Leiden) (PI), Anne Rasmussen (Leiden) & Joost Berkhout (Amsterdam).


The project: “INTERARENA – Interest Groups across Political Arenas” analyzed group influence on the bureaucracy, parliament and the media in Denmark, Great Britain and the Netherlands. Among other things the project aimed at determining which groups are successful in attracting the attention of the media or bureaucrats and thus affecting political and administrative decisions. The project received a Sapere Aude grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research awarded to Anne Binderkrantz (Aarhus) (PI) and a project team consisting of Darren Halpin (ANU), Helene Helboe-Pedersen (Aarhus), Peter Munk Christiansen (Aarhus) and Anne Rasmussen (Leiden).

Party-Interest Group Relationships in Contemporary Democracies (PAIRDEM)

The PAIRDEM project examines the nature, the shaping factors and the consequences for policy-making of party-group relationships in long-established democracies across the world. It aims at a) mapping the character of contemporary party-interest group relationships, mainly as an organizational phenomenon, b) identifying the shaping factors of party-group relationships in this sense (at the country and party/group level) and c) measuring patterns of party-group influence and their impact on public policy. The project is financed by a grant for “FRIHUMSAM Young Research Talents” from The Research Council of Norway awarded to Elin Allern (PI). She is supported by a project team consisting of Tim Bale, Heike Kluever, Thomas Poguntke, Anne Rasmussen, Paul Webb, Christopher Witko and David Marshall.

Left-wing Parties and Trade Unions across the World

This project conducted a comparative study of party-trade union relationships in 13 different countries with Elin Allern (Oslo) and Tim Bale (Queen Mary) as principal investigators. Together with Simon Otjes, I was responsible for the Dutch country study.

Interest representation in Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

In 2006 I received a grant from from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation to examine Europeanization of interest intermediation in Denmark, the Netherlands and Great Britain. The project gathered information from more than 1,200 national interest group respondents in the three countries about their activities and lobbying targets in EU and national policy. A key aim was to investigate how national interest groups interacted with national political parties and how much the EU affected this pattern of interaction.

Representation and policy agendas in the European Union

In 2010 I received support from the Montesquieu Institute, Netherlands for a project linked to the EU Policy Agendas Project, which aims at studying attention to and participation in policy issues on the agendas of different EU institutions. More specifically my team examined participation in European Commission consultations and Commission expert committees.