Stresstest for Democracy
Stresstest for Democracy: Round table series on the crisis and resilience of Western democracies
A cooperation of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Center for Liberal Modernity
Liberal western democracies are under pressure. From within, they are threatened by social, cultural and political polarisation, which populist and extremist forces are building on. The trust in democratic institutions is declining along with the ability of democracies to deal effectively with challenges such as climate change, digitalisation and global migration. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war have also been a resilience test for liberal democracies. Furthermore, they are challenged from the outside by a new systemic competition with authoritarian powers, many of which have also been trying to exert their influence by interfering into domestic affairs. In short, the democratic order in established democracies is increasingly being put to the test, and it is unclear how this stresstest will turn out for Western democracies.
In our discussion series, we take a look at some key countries: What is going on in France, the USA, Poland and Hungary, in Israel and the European Union? How can the developments in these countries be explained? What is transferable to Germany, what is different here and why? And what paths can be found out of the multiple crises?
Round Table No. 1:
France after the Parliamentary Elections
September 19th 2022, 6–8 pm
France has voted and with the parliamentary election Macron has lost an absolute majority in the National Assembly. The lack of a majority in the parliament is becoming a problem for the country’s tradition and practice of a strong presidential rule. Additionally, there are also deep-seated problems within the French society: (… ) since the yellow vest protests, it has become clear that the disparities between urban centres and rural regions harbour potentially explosive political tensions. Globalisation, immigration and European integration are polarising issues too. While the traditional parties of the centre-left and centre-right only lead a shadowy existence, right-wing and left-wing populist forces attract visible majorities of voters.
How can the results of the parliamentary elections be interpreted? What do the results of the parliamentary elections mean for French politics and for the EU? Which trends and phenomena can also be observed in Germany, which not and why? We will discuss this together following the keynote speeches by
Dr. Claire Demesmay, expert on Franco-German relations, Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk and Michaela Wiegel, political correspondent for France, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The USA after the Midterm Elections
November 10th 2022, tba
The US is facing the midterm elections in November and it is becoming clear that the country’s political and cultural divisions have, by no means, been smoothed out with the election of Joe Biden as president. The radical wing of the Republicans has been gaining strength, Donald Trump has been preparing his comeback, new major campaign issues such as abortion rights reveal the depth of existing cultural and societal polarisation. At the same time, social antagonisms continue unabated.
Why has the Biden administration not succeeded in breaking the social and political constellation that has made a radical Republican faction powerful and Donald Trump – the president? How long can the US continue to play its role as the guardian of the liberal world order if the Congress remains deeply divided and anti-liberal forces grow stronger? What are the chances of renewing democracy in the USA? And what parallels can be drawn between the USA and Germany?
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