Research & Analysis Archive
The Democratic Disconnect: Citizenship and Accountability in the Transatlantic Community May 02, 2013 / Seyla Benhabib, David Cameron, Anna Dolidze, Gábor Halmai, Gunther Hellmann, Kateryna Pishchikova, Richard Youngs
This report revisits the paradigms of liberalism and democracy, and questions the ways in which liberal and democratic values are expressed domestically and promoted The authors examine the dynamics of democracy, and the forces and mechanisms that derail or obstruct democratic development, or, alternatively, foster democratic sustainability at the national and international levels. The atrophy observed today in more or less established democracies forces us to revisit the question of how core liberal democratic features can be enhanced. The authors reject the argument that these challenges are merely fleeting or shallow, or that they are simply an ongoing part of democracy’s normal travails. They are new, and they have created novel circumstances that liberal democracies must confront. The focus of the paper lies in the messy and ever-changing world of contemporary liberal democracies in the transatlantic realm as well as on the phenomena of hybrid regimes and democratic regressions.
The core argument is that serious problems co-exist with greater potential for re-energizing democracy across the transatlantic area. The juncture is one of both threat and possibility. The key to developing the positive potential lies in enhancing the participatory vibrancy that represents the cornerstone of high quality democracy. The authors offer ideas for how the dynamics of participation and representation can be better connected. The way forward for democracy is unlikely to be smooth and will undoubtedly be subject to sobering constraints and disappointing setbacks. Yet, the faint stirrings of democratic renewal can be detected. With sufficiently innovative reimagining, democracy’s future may not be as bleak as many prophesy.