New Challenges for Democracy – Exploring the Crisis of Trust and Democratic Legitimacy in Europe
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In the last few years we have been increasingly confronted with crisis symptoms of democracy. The trust in political representatives and institutions is decreasing, while populism and nationalism are on rise. The economic crisis and hardships with which the world is confronted have challenged the notion of deregulated market economies and social welfare. Neoliberal economic policies go hand in hand with enormous power of multinational corporations and financial markets. At the same time, socioeconomic inequalities in the West seem to endanger the stability and legitimacy of the democratic order. The time of euphoria after the fall of the Berlin Wall and demise of communism is over; we have entered a time of fear, distrust and crisis. The end of history has not arrived. Rather, we face a new stage of global history with no guarantees regarding the outcome. As we live in fluid times, democracy has also become a fluid concept. Democracy has been challenged; the crisis ...of trust evident, and democratic legitimacy is contested. Deprived populations occupy the streets, new social movements demand more transparency in politics and the economy, and requests for a more direct form of participation are formulated.