Is there a crisis of democracy?

3 October 2012

This Thursday sees Professor Wolfgang Merkel, Germany's leading political scientist, taking to the Sydney Ideas stage to ask whether democracies around the world are in crisis.

Public talk of a deepening crisis of democracy is ubiquitous today in Europe, the United States, Latin America and elsewhere. Inspired by Joseph Schumpeter's classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Merkel asks whether, and to what extent, there is evidence for such a crisis.

In a bold and broad-ranging look at the great conflicting trends of our time, he probes such phenomena as the long-term impact of migration, growing social inequality, the decline of political parties, austerity politics, individualisation and the rise of the critical citizen.

With an eye on topical events such as the unresolved Eurozone crisis, Merkel asks whether these powerful trends are having irreversibly ruinous effects on democracy or whether, on the contrary, these trends may turn out to be triggers for improving democracy as we know it.

Professor Wolfgang Merkel is Germany's best-known political scientist, the director of the Democracy and Democratisation research program at the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB) and Professor of Political Science at the Humboldt University Berlin.

He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and advisor to many European governments. He is also a non-party member of the Basic Values Commission of the Executive Committee of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a member of the social sciences review board of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Event details

What: Is there a crisis of democracy? A Sydney Ideas talk by Wolfgang Merkel, co-presented with the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the Australian Research Council and the Sydney Social Justice Network

When: 6pm, Thursday 4 October

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: This event is free and open to all, with no registration required

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