New research project on the working conditions of Danish politicians

Professor of political science Helene Helboe Pedersen has received a grant from TrygFonden to investigate threats, harassment and stress among Danish politicians.

Helene Helboe Pedersen
Helene Helboe Pedersen Photo: Aarhus BSS

There are strong indications that the working conditions of Danish politicians are subpar. But what challenges are they facing and do the working conditions affect someone’s decision to become a politician? A new grant from TrygFonden will enable Professor of political science Helene Helboe Pedersen to explore these issues.

TrygFonden has already granted DKK 1,500,000 and plans to grant an additional DKK 1,475,780 in the future. A prospective total of DKK 2,975,780.

The title of the project "Policy under pressure. Threats, harassment and stress among Danish politicians" indicates that the working conditions for Danish politicians are not ideal. Several politicians suffer from severe stress because of constant media coverage, the fast pace, and being attacked – physically and verbally – by citizens and other politicians.

"I’m worried about the working conditions politicians are subjected to because politicians are crucial to our democracy. Harassment, threats and stress can affect elected politicians’ ability to do their job while also scaring away potential candidates. It’s important that we get a more accurate picture of the working conditions for Danish politicians at all levels and develop ideas to improve the situation," says Helene Helboe Pedersen and continues:

"With the support of TrygFonden, I’ll have the resources to carry out this comprehensive study, which will hopefully have a practical implication for politicians and citizens in Denmark, as well as academic significance for the study of political representation in modern democracies," she concludes.

The project will include surveys of Danish politicians at municipal, regional and national levels. The results of the surveys will be compared with similar data from Norway and Sweden. A survey will also be conducted among Danish voters. The researchers will collect data on harassment from the politicians' own Facebook profiles and will also measure how visible the politicians are in the media. Previous studies have shown that the more visible you are in the media, the more harassment you will be exposed to.

Kristian Weise, senior vice president of TrygFonden, has this to say about the project: "The safety and working conditions of politicians can have a major impact on our society. These elements can affect the functioning of the political regime in everyday life and also impact peoples’ desire to become actively involved in politics. That’s why we think it's important and relevant that Aarhus University conducts this major study on the working conditions of politicians. This topic has been hotly debated in recent years, which is why a study on the subject would be interesting and beneficial.”

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