Like most websites, the website of the University of Humanistic Studies uses cookies. Dutch regulations require websites to ask for approval the first time the site is visited. More information

Do mock elections in school help young adults to develop well-considered voting behaviour? (completed)

  • Start project: 2017
  • Status: completed

Many schools in the Netherlands organise mock elections in the runup to actual local, national and international elections. This way, they hope to increase young people’s involvement with democracy and the rule of law, and also their willingness to vote once they turn 18. But is this goal achieved? Isolde de Groot of the University of Humanistic Studies and Bram Eidhof of the Institute for Public Values (Instituut voor Publieke Waarden) researched mock elections, to discover that the focus on developing critical democratic citizenship remains limited. 

PDF fileDownload the report


International research into citizenship development among 14-year-olds in 24 countries shows that, in the Netherlands, this group knows relatively little about democracy and the rule of law. Compared to their peers in surrounding countries, they are less politically engaged, attach less importance to elections, and are less willing to exercise their right to vote. Against this background, Isolde de Groot (assistant professor of Education at the University of Humanistic Studies) and Bram Eidhof conducted an exploratory research into the way that schools in the Netherlands devote attention to the mock elections, or shadow elections, organised prior to the actual elections.

Little is known so far about how schools deal with the subject. What do teachers aim to achieve? To what extent do they organise educational activities around the elections? To what extent do they involve pupils in the organisational work? The researchers conducted a survey study to find out what the current practices are and whether these can be improved. The research was conducted by the University of Humanistic Studies and was co-funded by ProDemos.



Instituut voor Publieke Waarden




The study shows that education geared to mock elections mainly aims to promote basic political development. There is only limited attention for developing critical democratic citizenship. The study also shows that attention for more complex learning outcomes varies significantly according to the type of education. Some of the teachers would like to contribute more to their pupils’ political development through different types of activities, and would like to contribute more to a democratic school culture by strengthening pupils’ involvement in organising the mock elections.

Based on these results, the report advocates:

  • strengthening the school’s vision on civic development;
  • ensuring (at the policy level) that there is room in the curriculum for cross-disciplinary civic education and for meaningful pupil involvement in making decisions about school affairs;
  • more room in teachers’ schedules to develop education in this domain;
  • a stronger focus on the relevant competences in teacher training and having educational partners (including pupils and teachers) consult each other about the types of developments that ought to be stimulated in the context of mock elections and related political projects, and about desirable educational activities in this regard.


Democratisch burgerschapsonderwijs & scholierenverkiezingen in Nederland: Een verkennend onderzoek naar de huidige en wenselijke organisatie van scholierenverkiezingen anno 2017 (download as pdf)

Dr. Isolde de Groot (University of Humanistic Studies) and Dr. Bram Eidhof (Instituut voor Publieke Waarden)


Dr. Isolde de Groot,

Many schools in the Netherlands organise student elections prior to (inter)national and local elections. By doing so, they hope to increase young people's involvement in democracy and the rule of law. To what extent is this successful? Take a look at the research of Isolde de Groot and Bram Eidhof.