Democracy yesterday, today, tomorrow: Crisis and prospects. A conversation in the context of “Domini Public” at Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens (June 2015)
Everyone is talking about a crisis of democracy. The elements of the crisis are many and operate on multiple levels, from the national decision-making process, which is gradually moving beyond the reach of popular democratic control, to the steady erosion and undermining of the institutions of representation, the unequal distribution of power between the many and the few, the degrading of public space, and political cynicism. And the crisis has manifested itself on multiple levels, too, spreading upwards from the local and the national to the ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU and the political consequences of globalization, whose symptoms include political alienation, corruption, extremism, and the emergence of the struggle between populism and anti-populism as the key ideological fault line in contemporary society. But how can we evaluate this crisis? How is it interconnected with the economic crisis? How does it intersect with the historical evolution and implementations of the democratic ideal? Have we already passed irreversibly into a post-democratic era? Can we still hope for a resurgence of democracy, and if so how is this to come about? Is populism a threat, or might it serve as a correctional movement with the potential to reverse the crisis facing democracy?
Colin Crouch: Professor Emeritus of the University of Warwick and external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies at Cologne (‘How can we best challenge post-democracy?’)