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Dr T.W.G. van der Meer (1980) has been appointed professor of Political Science, specialising in Legitimacy, Inequality and Citizenship, at the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Prof Ton van der Meer
Photo by Dirk Gillissen

In his role as professor in the new chair, Tom van der Meer will be conducting research on the relationship between citizens and government bodies, with an emphasis on the role of citizens and citizenship in relation to the state and the political process. This concerns aspects such as political support, confidence and participation, as well as the various inequalities in this regard. Amongst other factors, he will be assessing the importance of confidence in the political system in terms of ensuring a functional democracy, the effects of proposed institutional amendments to our electoral system – such as referenda, electoral thresholds and districts – on political trust, and the extent to which new forms of civic participation can solve existing inequalities in the area of political participation. Van der Meer will also be working to identify the preconditions for a political crisis of confidence and to assess how inequalities in the political participation process and declining confidence in the system affect the quality of our representative democracy.

Confidence in the political system

Van der Meer will build on his earlier research projects that explored aspects such as confidence in the political system, electoral behaviour (electoral volatility), political socialisation, and social capital (civic participation, ethnic diversity). He regularly publishes on these subjects. The Handbook on Political Trust (Edward Elgar Publishing) edited by Van der Meer and Sonja Zmerli is set to be published in the short term. Last September, Van der Meer received a Vidi grant from NWO for his research project entitled Crisis of Trust, Crisis of Democracy? The Consequences of Low and Declining Political Trust on the Quality of Representative Democracy. His book Niet de Kiezer is Gek (Spectrum) will be published this autumn.

Van der Meer teaches Political Science to Bachelor's and Master's students, and students enrolled in the Social Sciences Research Master's, a programme merging Anthropology, Sociology and Political Science at which he served as programme director for three years. He also plays a key role in the first-year Political Structures and Processes programme. In line with his research focus, he will be developing a lecture series on the themes of legitimacy, inequality and citizenship. 

About Van der Meer

Van der Meer has been affiliated with the UvA's Political Science Department since 2010, and has been a senior university lecturer since 2012. He previously worked as a researcher at institutions including the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) and Radboud University Nijmegen. He also held positions as a guest researcher at the political science departments of McGill University in Montréal (Canada) and Universität Mannheim (Germany). Van der Meer serves as co-director of the Dutch Parliamentary Election Survey (DPES/NKO) and the Dutch Local Election Survey (DLES/LKO). He is also editor and co-founder of, a popular blog that sees researchers establish links between political science research and current affairs. Van der Meer serves as a member of the Supervisory Council of ProDemos (House for Democracy and the Rule of Law).