Europe’s political crisis and the Future of Liberal Democracy
As anti-elite sentiment rises across Europe, governments are struggling to respond to a new political environment. What will replace the old political order, a revival of liberal democracy or a crisis of governability?
Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton
Ivan Krastev, Chair of Board, Centre for Liberal Strategies
Mark Leonard, Director, ECFR
The economic and financial crisis has struck at the same time as a crisis in the authority and legitimacy of the institutions of representative democracy. As anti-elite sentiment rises across Europe, governments are struggling to respond to a new political environment. What will replace the old political order, a revival of liberal democracy or a crisis of governability?
Douglas Carswell, argues foe optimism. He thinks the West is on the cusp of dramatic changes driven by the failure of her elites and new technology. Carswell predicts a future of iDemocracy where collectivism without government is possible in a way that was previously unimaginable. In his mind, the rise of technology and the death of Big Government will give the West a new lease of life.
In contrast, Ivan Krastev, argues that Europe's citizens are being disenfranchised by the five emancipatory revolutions — the Woodstock-to-Wall-Street social and political revolution of the 1970s and 1980s; the “end of history revolutions of 1989; the “digital revolution” of the 1990s; the demographic revolution; and the political brain revolution that is unfolding in front of our eyes, – that initially deepened our democratic experience, making us freer than ever before. He argues that these revolutions fractured collective purpose, created inequality, made us skeptical of those in power, and left us feeling ineffective in creating change.
Douglas Carswell is the Member of Parliament for Clacton. Author of the influential book The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy, Douglas is an advocate of political reform and helped establish the Direct Democracy campaign. He also co-wrote “Direct Democracy; an agenda for a new model party”, which the Spectator magazine described as “One of the founding texts for the new, revitalised Toryism written by some of the brightest young Conservative thinkers”.
Ivan Krastev is a political scientist and the author of In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders?. Alongside his work for the Centre for Liberal Strategies where he chairs the Board, he is a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna. He is a member of the Board of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Mark Leonard is co-founder and Director of ECFR. He recently co-wrote an essay on The New Political Geography of Europe.