The Future of Democracy
Even the countries with long democratic
traditions have been increasingly confronted with challenges,
such as: low voter turnouts, anti-parliamentary and extremist
movements or international terrorism.
The scale of many problems in society has
also expanded (‘internationalisation’, ‘globalisation’),
issues are becoming ever more complex, sudden changes require
rapid responses rather than lengthy deliberation, market
forces govern societal decision-making, the world has become
more legalised, et cetera. As a consequence, decision-making
has been delegated to experts (‘managerialism’)
who do not define only the ends but also the means.
Because of all this, citizens are alienated
from societal decision-making. There is today a widespread
feeling that official democratic channels are irresponsive
to people’s interests and desires. Young people especially
are looking for new forms of association and use other than
traditional ways to make their voices heard.
The advent of what has been called the ‘information
society’ and ever more sophisticated ways of electronic
communication pose challenges of an entirely new kind. From
the point of view of democracy, a crucial question is in
what way these developments may affect societal decision-making.
Besides technical questions, the internet, for instance,
also raises questions of a political nature: Who is to decide
about the net, by way of which procedures, and what consequences
will this have for the quality of political regimes throughout
In general, the one over-arching question
is: What is to come, in other words, what will or what can
the future of democracy be in those countries with long-standing
democratic traditions, in the so-called ‘transition
countries’, which are already moving somewhere along
the road to democracy, and in the countries which still
seem to be far from democracy?