In Switzerland and beyond, increased attention has been paid to the ‘political apathy’ and the lack of political interest of young adults. It is thereby argued that the systematic underrepresentation of young citizens not only offends the democratic principle of equality but also implies that the interests of those bearing the future consequences of today’s political decisions are not adequately integrated in the political process.
In several research projects, some of them founded by the Federal Administration, Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen and her team have been working on measuring and analyzing youth political involvement and attitudes. Most importantly, in 2013/14 the research group has collected a rich data set combining student and teacher survey data (in upper secondary education) with information on how political education is integrated into the respective teaching curricula.
In several publications, the functioning and consequences of direct democracy are being analyzed. While most studies mainly cover the Swiss case, more recently, we have broadened the focus to a comparative context. Moreover, in the context of an increasing number of European referendums on EU-issues, and the fact that populist parties across Europe have discovered direct democracy as a powerful campaign element, the interest in my expertise by the media, but also by international researchers or governments has increased.