The City of Reykjavík has received a grant of ISK 400 million [$32,642,600; €29,154,411] to participate in a three-year study entitled “Populism and Civic Engagement,” or PaCE. The project is one of many sponsored by Horizon 2020, the largest ever research and innovation-driven programme to be sponsored by the EU.
“Across Europe, there is a rise of political movements that claim to challenge liberal elites and speak for the ‘ordinary person’ – movements that can be loosely categorised as ‘populist,’” reads the project abstract. “Many of these movements have undesirable tendencies. The Populism and Civic Engagement project (PaCE)…aims to combat the negative tendencies of populist movements, to build upon the lessons of positive examples (such as Reykjavik), and hence play a part in constructing a firmer democratic and institutional foundation for the citizens of Europe.”
Indeed, the project will use Iceland’s so-called ‘Pots and Pans Revolution,’ which took place in the wake of the country’s 2008 financial crash, as a case study. This movement had some populist characteristics but—in contrast to similar movements in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the UK, and the US—was ultimately the basis for increased liberalisation in Iceland and improvements to Icelandic democracy, such as changes to the constitution and increased accountability for politicians.
Seven international partners from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, and the UK will be collaborating on this research project alongside the City of Reykjavík and the Iceland-based Citizens Foundation. PaCE will conclude in January 2022.