The challenge from terrorism in the Nordic countries: An analysis of citizens' reactions, policy responses and legitimacy

Democracies, including the Nordic countries, are under pressure from terrorist activities. Not only terrorist attacks, but also the sheer threat of terrorism places strains on democratic government. Protection of citizens is a paramount task for the state. If citizens feel at risk and law and order is under threat the authority of government might possibly be undermined. In democratic states however, measures to safeguard citizens against violent threats run the risk of weakening the very foundation for democracy. Stern policy measures like searches without warrants, arrests, telephone tapping, and prolonged detention without charge or trial may be rational methods for defending the safety of citizens but they are also infringements on civil and political rights. Hence, the clash between safety and freedom is most significant felt in democratic states.

An important research question is to what degree democratic states are resilient as democracies against the challenge of terrorism. The project address this overreaching question through three work packages.

The first study whether perceived threats, such as terrorism, invokes fear in citizens and to what degree they are willing to curtail civil and political rights in the face of terrorist threats?

The second part of the project looks at counterterrorist legislation in western democracies (including the Nordic countries) and in what ways restrictive legislative measures affects citizens' trust, beliefs in democracy, and the legitimacy of the state.

The third sub-project spotlights institutional arrangements and aims to analyse what effects of variation in institutional setup has for people's fear of terrorism.