Democracy ... Anger ... and Elite Responses

Are we in DANGER?

Does political violence trigger democratic breakdown? What can political elites do to confront radical, anti-democratic forces? Do encompassing pro-democratic coalitions successfully defeat violent enemies of democracy? These questions are at the core of the “Democracy, Anger, and Elite Responses” (DANGER) project. Funded by the European Research Council, the project will answer these questions by studying the challenges to democracy in Europe’s interwar period (1919-1939). The project team uses on computational methods to collect information from historical sources on political violence and elite strategies to counter threats to democracy. Building on these data, the project team develops quantitative models to assess the risk of democratic breakdown faced by contemporary democracies.

The Team.

Nils-Christian Bormann is a political scientist at Witten/Herdecke University and the principal investigator (PI) of the DANGER project. He coordinates project activities and is the lead researcher. His regional expertise within the project focuses on Scandinavia and the Baltics during the interwar period. His broader research interests include the sources of political instability, group-based inequalities, and conflict resolution.

Lea Kaftan is the DANGER project’s post-doctoral researcher at Witten/Herdecke University. She coordinates and collects data on parties, governments and political violence in interwar Europe. Her regional focus is on the Benelux countries, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. She furthermore studies democratic backsliding and party politics.

Bruno Della Sala is a PhD student at Witten/Herdecke University and researcher in the DANGER project. His regional expertise within the project focuses on South-Western Europe during the interwar period. His broader research interests include international relations, causes of conflict, and autocratization.

Stefan Stojkovic is a political scientist at Witten/Herdecke University and doctoral researcher in the DANGER project. His regional expertise within the project focuses on Central and South-Eastern Europe during the interwar period. His broader research interests include democratic backsliding, political behavior and sub-national democracy.


Here we regularly report on our research progress, scientific events we attend, and current threats to democracy in Europe.

Matteotti’s Speech

One century ago, on May 30th 1924, the secretary of the Unitary Socialist Party and Member of Parliament Giacomo Matteotti gave a speech denouncing the

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Beer Hall Putsch

One century ago, on November 9th 1923, Adolf Hitler, the leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), attempted to take over power in

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October 12, 2023 Stefan Stojkovic, a PhD researcher in the DANGER project, attended the annual conference of the Swedish Political Science Association (SWEPSA) in Gothenburg,

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DANGER team in Münster

Lea Kaftan and Stefan Stojkovic presented updates on their research based on DANGER data at the PEDD Conference in Münster in late February. Stefan Stojkovic

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Our data

Political Elites & Political Violence in the Interwar Period

Election Results and Governments, 1919-1939

The “Actions by Elites and Leaders” (ABEL) dataset contains information on government and opposition parties at three levels: elections, cabinets, and parties. The data record electoral results, government coalitions, and party characteristics such as their ideological orientation and main constituencies. Future releases will provide information on actions by political leaders that include party bans, power grabs, and restrictions on political competition. The data help us understand how democracies deconsolidate through elite actions, and what elites can do to save democracy: either by banning radical parties or by forming coalitions to protect democracy. We offer downloads of the base data and country reports that introduce readers to the interwar period. 

The “Citizen Anger Interwar News” (CAIN) database provides information on the location, time, type, target, and perpetrator of politically violent events in Europe’s interwar democracies. The database includes information on politically motivated violence between the state and non-state actors, for example, clashes between police forces and radical challengers of democracy, violence between non-state actors, for example street fights between communist and fascist militias, and violence against civilians, such as political assassinations. Built around news and archival sources, the database will provide the first systematic mapping of political violence in Europe’s interwar period. It will enable us to study the relationship between political violence and democratic breakdown or survival at great spatial and temporal resolution. We anticipate a release of the data in the first half of 2025.

Thank you for visiting ... the DANGER project.