Region: Europe

April 2019, Volume 30, Issue 2

Catalonia: The Perils of Majoritarianism

Spain’s system of Autonomous Communities had functioned fairly smoothly for decades following the country’s democratic transition, but events in Catalonia are putting it under unprecedented strain.

January 2019, Volume 30, Issue 1

How the Populists Won in Italy

In 2018, Italian voters produced Europe’s first populist majority. Lega and the Five Star Movement, each populist in its own way, collectively won just over half the vote. Now they are locked in a struggle with the EU.

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April 2018, Volume 29, Issue 2

The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy

Across the West, economic, demographic, and cultural shifts have spurred the rise of populists who embrace majoritarianism and popular sovereignty while showing little commitment to constitutionalism and individual liberty. 

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July 2017, Volume 28, Issue 3

The Pipe Dream of Undemocratic Liberalism

A look at liberal democracy’s complex historical evolution shows that elite fantasies of liberalism without democracy are ill-founded. Authoritarian legacies and democratic deficits lie at the core of trends that threaten liberal rights.

July 2017, Volume 28, Issue 3

The Rise of Referendums: Elite Strategy or Populist Weapon?

Political elites once held referendums to fend off challenges to European integration. More recently, Euroskeptic parties have employed referendums to batter down the walls of elite consensus. But the spread of referendums threatens to undermine the legitimacy of representative democracy.

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Never-Boring Balkans: The Elections of 2016

Once Europe’s most painful “problem” area, the Balkans have managed to make strides toward stability, democracy, and integration into the West over the last fifteen or so years. But Moscow is becoming increasingly active in the region, and the durability of these gains should not be taken for granted.

April 2016, Volume 27, Issue 2

Turkey’s Two Elections: The AKP Comes Back

In power since 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seemed as if it might be losing its hold when Turkish voters went to the polls in June 2015. Yet that “hung election” gave way to another contest in November, and the AKP came roaring back.

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July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

Europe and Azerbaijan: The End of Shame

A few years ago, Europe’s most important intergovernmental human-rights institution, the Council of Europe, crossed over to the dark side. Like Dorian Gray, the dandy in Oscar Wilde’s story of moral decay, it sold its soul. And as with Dorian Gray, who retained his good looks, the inner decay of the Council of Europe remains hidden from view.

January 2014, Volume 25, Issue 1

Mediterranean Blues: The Crisis in Southern Europe

Beset by economic and political crises, democracy in southern Europe has been eroding, along with support for the EU. These developments stem largely from the design of the euro, which denies key economic-policy tools to national governments.

April 2013, Volume 24, Issue 2

Defending Democracy Within the EU

Should Brussels intervene to protect democracy within EU member states? Does Europe have the tools it would need to do so effectively? Recent developments in Hungary and Romania show the importance of addressing these questions sooner rather than later.

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

European Disintegration? Warnings from History

The irony at the heart of Europe’s current crisis is that although the EU originated as part of a post-1945 effort to consolidate democracy in Western Europe, the Union’s travails are now pushing the continent in the opposite direction instead.

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

European Disintegration? The Sources of Extremism

The EU is experiencing a somewhat paradoxical phenomenon: On the one hand, it has been a tremendously successful club, promoting democracy and open societies within its borders and in its neighborhoods. On the other hand, the language of national rivalry and of class struggle is re-entering public discourse, especially within the eurozone. 

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October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

European Disintegration? A Fraying Union

Contrary to the expectations of some democratic theorists, the EU will not collapse because of the “democratic deficit” of European institutions. Nor will it be saved by the democratic mobilization of civil society. Paradoxically, it is widespread disillusionment with democracy—the shared belief that national governments are powerless in the face of global markets—that may be…

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

European Disintegration? Twin Troubles

Confidence in all European institutions is at a record low. What explains this lack of trust, and how can it be restored? To begin with, the eurozone needs a workable long-term solution, and the EU as a whole must come to terms with the reality of a two-speed integration process.

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

European Disintegration? A Way Forward

The present crisis of the Euro is a near perfect example of how causal complexity, unanticipated consequences, and decisional uncertainty can have a significant and cumulative impact on regional integration. In theory, this should be the crisis that will drive the EU from economic to political integration. In practice, the outcome—at least, so far—has been…

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

European Disintegration? Markets, Institutions, and Legitimacy

There is a lively public debate in Europe over how to deal with the current crisis. Among the obstacles to overcome, economic diversity, populism, and the distribution of costs figure prominently. Although most now agree on what needs to be done, whether it will be politically feasible remains uncertain. 

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

European Disintegration? Elusive Solidarity

Europe’s economic crisis has become a crisis of democratic governance that could roll back five decades of integration. The EU may disintegrate because its “commanders” are unable to converge three distinct economic, political and institutional theaters in which the crisis is being played out.

October 2007, Volume 18, Issue 4

Is East-Central Europe Backsliding?

Since its very first issue back in January 1990, the Journal of Democracy has devoted extensive coverage to the transformation in East-Central Europe that began with the sudden fall of communist regimes in 1989. Though many of the articles that we published on this region emphasized the problems and difficulties which lay in the path…