out of the balance

a Networks Perspective

The vulnerability of the democratic process is under increasing scrutiny after scandals like those related to Cambridge Analytica. Major concerns arise from the deceptive use of social media in the US, Europe, and several Asian countries, and from the increase in social and political polarisation across world regions, as visible in Germany, India, and the US. Finally, straightforward frauds are observed in other regions, like in the Crimea referendum or the Belarus elections. These challenges are eroding democracy, the most frequent source of governmental power, which raises multiple questions about its vulnerabilities.

Network Science has been applied to the study of issues related to democratic processes in many different contexts. Ideas taken from complex networks and complexity science have been applied to describe opinion formation and voting processes, as well as media or terrorist attacks influencing them. Other applications can be found in studies of electoral systems, such as the evaluation of democracies or the fairness of national elections.

Democratic states have countless ways of performing elections, which create different electoral systems. These systems can be analysed using network science in various layers – they involve a network of voters in the first place, a network of electoral districts connected by commuting flow for instance, or a network of political parties to give a few examples.

In the fully online satellite session Democracy out of the balance: a Networks Perspective, which will take place during the Networks 2021 conference, we aim at gathering scientists applying network tools to the study of a broad range of democratic issues. We would like to highlight different aspects of such studies, from opinion dynamics and voters behaviour to electoral systems design and fraud detection. Our satellite will help to disseminate recent discoveries, novel tools, and current research on the subject. The event will be highly interdisciplinary by nature, accommodating theoretical and applied researchers from many fields including Social Sciences, Political Sciences, Economics, Statistics, Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Sciences. A cross-sectional discussion will be promoted so that each participant can bring home the knowledge of the state-of-the-art research.


  • Electoral Systems

  • Decision and Game Theory

  • Opinion Dynamics

  • Computational Social Science

Important Dates

  • Abstract Submission Deadline - 17 19 May

  • Acceptance Notifications - 24 May

  • Satellite date - 25 June

  • Networks 2021 conference - 5-10 July


Mateusz Wilinski
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Tomasz Raducha
Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems (IFISC)

Jarosław Klamut
University of Warsaw

Paul Bouman
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Roger Cremades
Wageningen University & Research

The idea of the workshop was a consequence of a joint project started during the Winter Workshop on Complex Systems in 2020. While working on the vulnerability of different electoral systems, we noticed that the problem is highly interdisciplinary and is recently getting much more attention. Observing the volatile international situation, we decided that such a satellite session is needed and a joint NetSci+SunBelt conference seems like a perfect opportunity for that.

The session is meant for all participants interested in the subject. No previous experience is expected. We hope the event will spark a broader discussion and potentially start new, interdisciplinary collaborations.