About this Seminar
In the last decade, demagogues have been on the rise. Once in power, elected leaders with authoritarian inclinations have often entrenched themselves in governments, while intense party polarization has left voters blind to autocrats’ abuses. Furthermore, as voters seem increasingly susceptible to misinformation, the rise of economic inequality has made democracy vulnerable to capture by powerful interest.
This seminar explores the past, present, and future of democracy – its institutions and norms – and some chronic dilemmas in the practice of democracy. It will convene important thinkers in Europe and North America to explore a range of issues including:
- what makes democracies work;
- what challenges they currently face;
- what makes them vulnerable to the rise of demagogues;
- what leads to democratic disappointment and disaffection?
It will also serve as a forum for discussion of work in progress and forthcoming books and papers contributing to debates on democracy. The seminar will explore what lessons can be learned from historical and contemporary cases of democratic breakthrough and backsliding, ranging from Weimar Germany’s spectacular collapse in the 1930s to post-communist Hungary and Poland.
The seminar is a collaborative effort with the following institutions:
- Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) – Research Unit on Transformations of Democracy (Germany)
- Central European University – Democracy Institute (Hungary)
- Collegium Civitas – Centre for Studies of Democracy, Civil Society and Political Elites (Poland)
- Johns Hopkins University – SNF Agora Institute (USA)