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Course Overview

The Summer Program intends to cope with one of the challenges parliaments are currently facing: namely the raising political distrust towards these democratic institutions par excellence confirmed by the decline in the voters' turnout in many national elections and certainly so far in the European elections. Electoral systems, as defined by the electoral formula for the conversion of the votes into parliamentary seats, as well as electoral legislation at large, e.g. including rules for electoral campaigns, on the criteria for eligibility and for settling electoral disputes, present a high degree of technical complexity of which citizens are often unaware. Yet, electoral rules and dynamics define the shape of representative democracy and need to be taken seriously into account, along other mechanisms of democratic accountability, in order to understand their impact on today's parliamentary democracy in Europe and elsewhere. In other words, while elections are still perceived as the main avenues to re-connect Parliaments' role to the instances of citizens and civil society, the rules and patterns underpinning their concrete operation and their impact on Parliaments are largely ignored by the public. By bringing together an interdisciplinary group of renown international scholars, in particular in the fields of public law, political science, history and philosophy, and professionals, the Summer program will try to untangle the following problematic knots: which actors and with which legitimacy contribute to the define the arrangements for parliamentary elections? Which role is played, from a political and legal standpoint, by political parties and groups in adapting their strategies to the voters' preferences and then to the electoral results? If and how have the electoral processes and results been affected by the new waves of populism, on the one hand,  and by the increasing politicization of the Union policies in the specific EU context? With this regard, the timing of the Summer Program is tailored to intercept also the debate emerging for the results of the 2019 European elections, which will probably shape the future of the EU in the years to come.