DKK 6.2 million for research into party leaders’ explanations for their own election defeat

Political science Professor Martin Bækgaard has received DKK 6.2 million from Independent Research Fund Denmark to investigate party leaders’ explanations for their election defeats, and how these explanations affect voters' support and perceptions of the legitimacy of the election.

Martin Bækgaard Photo: Aarhus BSS
Professor Martin Bækgaard Photo: Aarhus BSS

“Research has repeatedly shown that citizens’ support for democracy and confidence in the political system is affected by whether they perceive themselves as winners or losers of elections. But the role of a political leader is underestimated. It is possible to imagine that how party leaders communicate about an election colours the population's perception of the election result. An extreme example is how Donald Trump communicated the outcome of the US presidential election in 2020,” says Martin Bækgaard about the research he is about to start. 

By looking at party leaders around the world and conducting experiments with different explanations of election results, political science Professor Martin Bækgaard hopes to gain a deeper understanding of political leadership and the population’s reactions to election defeats. The project “Justifying Defeat: Party Leader Framing of Election Losses (JUSDEF)” has been made possible by a Research Project 2 grant from Independent Research Fund Denmark of DKK 6,175,568

“With the grant, our research group can examine what kinds of justifications party leaders use when their party loses an election, and how these justifications affect the perceptions of party supporters and the public of the party leader and of the election result,” says Martin Bækgaard.