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Democracy in Crisis: The End of Politics as We Know it?

The events of the most recent past – the electoral success of parties with latent or openly anti-democratic goals and the growing political polarization – have provided grounds to be concerned about the stability of democracy in many regions of the world, but particularly in the supposedly stable democracies of the West.

As a result of these events, the belief in democracy as a patent remedy for the stabilization and modernization of nations has been significantly weakened. In many European countries, the conviction is disappearing that universal participation in political decision-making is necessary, sometimes going as far as the specific intention of limiting civil rights for certain sections of the population. This is often connected to a loss of trust in the authority of law as an instrument of conflict resolution and balancing of interests. This change in public opinion can also be observed in foreign policy. Only a decade ago, attempts were still being made to establish democratic institutions in underdeveloped countries with external and, in some cases, military intervention, trusting in the stabilizing and modernizing power of these institutions. In many cases, however, this induced transformation process is now in danger of faltering or even failing. It indeed appears that the democratic form of government itself, even in Western countries, is losing its appeal, with openly anti-democratic parties gaining both support and power.

The CAS research focus will aim to provide explanations for these dynamics from the perspective of various disciplines, thus fostering the interdisciplinary discourse on one of the most pressing questions today. Three different topic threads are envisaged for this.

  • Topic Thread 1: Perception of economic uncertainty and growing inequality
  • Topic Thread 2: Exogenous and endogenous threats to democratic structures
  • Topic Thread 3: The understanding of democracy

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