The Crisis of Democracy: Conceptual Reflections and Critical Perspectives

Panel Code
Open Panel

The perception that democracy is in crisis is widespread. This general diagnosis refers to the decreasing trust in political elites and majoritarian institutions, to the weak performance of those institutions, and to deficits of the representative system. As a consequence, democracies are increasingly being challenged by change agents that have the potential to transform democratic institutions and sometimes even threaten their existence.
In many different contexts around the world, populist movements, both right-wing and left-wing, use the vocabulary of democracy to mobilize against pluralism and established institutions. Democracy and liberalism are decoupled when elected governments claiming to represent and protect “the people” use their power to push back the rights of minorities and dissenters. Generally, there seems to be a trend to strengthen participatory components of democracy at the expense of liberal components, such as the rule of law, judicial independence and the protection of individual rights.
This panel questions the diagnosis of a crisis of democracy and the relation between liberalism and democracy from different theoretical, historical and critical angles.