EliteForsk travel grant for talented PhD student from political science

On Monday, Kristian Vrede Skaaning Frederiksen, PhD student in political science from Aarhus BSS at Aarhus University, was presented with the impressive EliteForsk travel grant by Crown Princess Mary at an award ceremony in the Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen.

Kristian Vrede Skaaning Frederiksen Photo: Private
Kristian Vrede Skaaning Frederiksen Photo: Private
Crown Princess Mary Photo: Ministry of Higher Education and Science
Kristian Vrede Skaaning Frederiksen was presented with the grant by Crown Princess Mary. Photo: Uddannelses- og Forskningsministeriet

The EliteForsk travel grant is awarded every year by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science to some of the country's brightest and most talented PhD students. This time, the grant went to Kristian Vrede Skaaning Frederiksen from the Department of Political Science at Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University.

The grant of DKK 200,000 is for a long-term research stay at one of the very best research environments in the world. Kristian Vrede Skaaning Frederiksen says:

"I'm delighted and honoured to receive the grant, which will make it possible for me to have a research stay at the Centre for American Democracy at the University of California in Berkeley with some of the leading researchers in my field.

The grant also means I can attend more conferences during the year and present my research to some of the most talented people within my field. The stay and the conferences will help me expand my research network, and give me an opportunity to get the best possible feedback and supervision for my projects."

Why do voters support undemocratic leaders?

At the moment, Kristian is finishing his PhD project examining why voters support undemocratic political leaders. Just as it is important to carry out research into how democracies develop and survive, according to Kristian it is equally important to understand why democracy sometimes falls back.

It amazes him that voters' own behaviour is in part a threat to democracy.

"Voters have every opportunity to vote for politicians who want to promote democracy rather than undermine it, but they simply don't always do that," he says. He explains further:

"Firstly, voters sometimes weigh democracy against other considerations, such as policy or their perceptions of how well politicians are managing the national economy. More specifically, voters sometimes prefer competent, undemocratic politicians to incompetent, democratic politicians. Similarly, they sometimes prefer undemocratic politicians with whom they agree on issues such as tax policy or immigration policy to democratic politicians with whom they disagree. Secondly, voters don’t always perceive undemocratic acts as actually undemocratic, if they are performed by a political party the voters already support. At times, voters rest on their laurels and believe that democracy can never really come under threat in their country, and this is a problem for democratic stability."

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