Joep Boonekamp - van Lit

I am doctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science, Radboud University Nijmegen. My research focusses on democratic defence and autocratization processes.


The PhD project Turning the Tide examines under which circumstances elites and citizens stand up to defend democracy.

As a PhD candidate in Empirical Political Science, I am studying the role of democratic institutions and pro-democracy actors when democracy is threatened from the inside out (by democratically elected leaders). My research focuses on how democratic countries can effectively respond to challenges such as autocratization initiated by democratically elected leaders. Incumbent autocratizers do not always overtly manipulate elections. Instead, they covertly undermine the democratic process through small, incremental changes. Pro-democratic actors have a hard time to criticize this and defend democracy, when the challenges to democracy are so covert, ambiguous, incremental, and implementend by incumbents who have a democratic mandate.

Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, I aim to contribute to a deeper understanding of the factors that shape democratic resilience and the ways in which democratic societies can safeguard their security and stability.

I am passionate about applying my research to real-world policy issues, am eager to collaborate with others who share my interest in this important and timely topic, and look forward to sharing my research with broader audiences.


Joep Boonekamp - van Lit is researcher and PhD Candidate at the Department of Political Science, Radboud University Nijmegen. His PhD thesis, under the supervision of prof. dr. Carolien van Ham and dr. Maurits Meijers, investigates under which circumstances elites and citizens take up the defence of democracy - specifically when the erosion of democracy is being led by the democratically elected incumbent.

Next to his research, Joep is junior lecturer in the bachelor and the master Political Science at Radboud University. Currently, he teaches classes on academic skills and advanced research methods.

Joep was trained in Political Science (MSc and BSc), Public Administration (MSc), and African Studies (BA) at Leiden University, where he also worked as research and teaching assistant. In addition, he did internships at the International Institute of Social History and the Netherlands Commission for UNESCO .


Roundtable on Resilient Democracy, 2023

With other experts on democracy and the Dutch political system, I informed the leaders of Dutch political parties about the threats to Dutch democracy, and how to make it more resilient, during a roundtable in parliament. Read more.


Grondfest, 2022

Grondfest is the Dutch festival for democracy, with lectures, workshops, and debates. I gave a lecture followed by a Q&A on autocratic backsliding and the challenges to democracy. Read more.

Shift Talks, 2022

Under the theme Krom! Wat is er mis met jouw rechtsstaat? we discussed the challenges to the Dutch rule of law: is backsliding like we see in Poland and Hungary possible in the Netherlands? What can we learn from the situation in Russia, the US, and elsewhere about the risks for the Dutch rule of law and democracy? Read more.

Shift Talks 2022

Photography: Super Formosa Photography