The Future of Democracy in the European Context – IED Research Paper Project 2022


The IED is proud to present the outcome of its external research project titled “The Future of democracy in the European Context”.  The aim of this research project is to reflect on the future of democracy in the European context and to analyse the characteristics of the political culture that emerge in some spaces of public opinion in the context of the crisis of liberal democracy and in post-co-vid-19 societies; a crisis that is manifested in the disaffection of citizens with respect to actors, institutions and the political system of liberal democracies and also in the weakening of the political structures of representation and management of public policies.

Through this research, the IED intends to deepen our knowledge of the factors that are influencing the transformation of the democratic political culture of citizens in post-co-vid-19 societies and the impact of this political culture on the democratic system. We will also explore the alternative of Collaborative Governance and civil initiative with the aim of strengthening democratic systems.

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It is worth commenting on the social relevance of this work. Since the Second World War, scientific and technological progress, the development of market economies and the institutionalisation of the welfare society have socialised a political culture of democracy in the citizenry, which today is undergoing enormous changes that can be summarised in two fundamental ideas:

  • political disaffection

  • the inability of public structures to respond to the economic, social and political challenges posed in the context of globalisation.

These changes have led us to concrete problems that directly affect everyday life:

Do we have sufficient capacity to generate the wealth that meets our expectations? Can we maintain the public social welfare policies that we have generated? Do public institutions have sufficient capacity to intervene in order to guarantee the conditions of freedom and equality of citizenship? Do the political systems have sufficient capacity to intervene in order to guarantee the conditions of freedom and equality of citizenship? How is the culture of consumer societies affecting the quality of democracy? How do the new ways of constructing social reality emerging in the digital society affect the democratic system? How does the plurality of ways of thinking, feeling and acting of citizens affect the system of coexistence?

We could go on asking questions, but, today, these and other similar questions are on the table. These and other questions are the result of the events we are experiencing in everyday life: the emergence of populism on the left and on the right, citizens angry with the political class, multinationals relocating companies, the reduction of the welfare system, strong currents of opinion against immigration, and so on. All these events are placing us in a new political scene and facing a new political agenda.

The pandemic has come as a surprise to society as a whole; public officials, various economic and social sectors and the citizenry as a whole have been violently incorporated into a new scenario characterized by fear, insecurity and uncertainty. The virus is accelerating the economic, social and political trends that have been occurring in the context of globalization and, above all, due to its strong impact, it has become a major resocializing force. Nothing will be the same from now on. The pandemic is questioning us about our condition as human beings and about the various realities of collective action. One of the big questions on the table is how to deal with this situation and how it affects our democracies.

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Four Vices and One Virtue
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