Our objectives

A police officer check documents of a driver in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on March 18, 2020 in Paris as a strict lockdown comes into in effect in France to stop the spread of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Since January 2020, governments have engaged in exceptional decision-making to limit the propagation of the Covid-19. Although initially strong, public support for emergency measures has eroded as the severity of the pandemic has lessened. Throughout Europe, citizens and scholars are increasingly critical about the democratic and human rights’ costs of the management of the pandemic. Moreover, exceptional measures can durably affect democratic governance. If unaddressed, this decrease in public trust can reduce citizens’ compliance with public health measures and destabilize democratic stability. This calls for urgent research on the modalities, impacts and determinants of emergency decisions in crisis times.

Research objectives

The general objective of the project is to analyze the modalities, impacts and determinants of emergency decision-making in Europe through a cross-country empirical analysis. Three specific objectives are pursued. 

First, we intend to define and document metrics of exceptional decisions and their daily implementation from January 31st in each European subnational region in an open-access dashboard. We expect data for 15 European countries to be available two months after the start of the project and all countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) to be covered after nine months. 

Second, combining our data with the evolution of the pandemic in European subnational regions, we will assess the impact of emergency measures on a) democratic stability, b) political legitimacy, d) compliance and e) the containment of the pandemic. This allows us to identify, after 14 months, the best practices in terms of pandemic management and to strengthen the evidence-based of exceptional policy making in the Netherlands. Our third objective is to identify the determinants of the variation of governmental emergency measures through a two-staged approach. In the first stage, we will investigate how governments respond to the severity of the health crisis. To better seize the rationale behind emergency decision-making, we introduce political indicators pertaining to the political culture, legal and constitutional constraints, type of national institutions, political pre-crisis context and international commitments. Doing so will enable, by the end of the project, the identification of adequate political reforms which may make the Dutch political system and society more resilient to the pandemic but also to future crises. 

EXCEPTIUS governance and partners


EXCEPTIUS’ board is a restricted group that aims to solve the strategic problems arising over the course of the project. The board seeks to represent the diverse disciplinary fields / expertise concerned by the project.

Project’s partners

The project’s partners include a national team leader who manages national data collection (on metrics of exceptionalism and on the impacts of exceptionalism). In the largest countries, which are especially characterized by decentralized/ federal policy-making, several team leaders are collaborating on the data collection.