Liberal Democracy in Hard Times: Transitions, Dilemmas, and Innovations

To honour Professor Claus Offe, the Hertie School of Governance held a symposium entitled Liberal Democracy in Hard Times: Transitions, Dilemmas, and Innovations on the 22 March 2012.

The event was designed to bring together a number of speakers to address the assertion that democracy – as promise and reality – once again finds itself at the centre of public discourse and politics across the globe. The importance of revisiting our ideas and beliefs about democracy is highlighted by ongoing events in places as diverse as the United States where the financial crisis increasingly leaves citizens disappointed with political leaders and decision-making processes; the European Union where the democratic deficit is highly contested and the experiment of the fiscal union faces numerous internal and external challenges; and in the Middle East and North Africa where citizens have accomplished the unexpected by standing up against authoritarian regimes. Furthermore, it is widely argued that the effects of globalization, especially the global finance system, are putting representative democracy to a test; and that a widespread demand for greater transparency and accountability, as well as calls for a new deal on the responsibilities and responsiveness of leaders, imply the need for fundamental changes to how we approach governance.

Along with Professor Offe himself , contributors to the symposium included Jon Elster, Robert E. Goodin, Jürgen Habermas, Stephen Holmes, Micheline Ishay, Ivan Krastev, Ulrich K. Preuß, Jacques Rupnik, Philippe Schmitter, Wolfgang Streeck and Lea Ypi.

To mark this event Global Policy Journal is hosting an excellent report from the symposium by Jakob Christian Jekat and Julia Clajus which can be downloaded here and videos from the symposium's three panels:


Claus Offe's Welcome


Panel One | Transitions to democracy - conditions, modes, quality of outcomes

Chair: Micheline Ishay, University of Denver, and Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi

Video 1 - Stephen Holmes, New York University School of Law
Video 2 - Ivan Krastev, Centre for Liberal Strategies (video unavailable)
Video 3 - Jacques Rupnik, Sciences Po, Paris


Panel Two | Crises and dilemmas of democracy - diagnoses and prospects

Chair: Ulrich K. Preuß, Professor Emeritus, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

Video 1 - Jürgen Habermas, Professor Emeritus, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt
Video 2 - Philippe Schmitter, Professor Emeritus, European University Institute, Florence
Video 3 - Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG), Cologne, and University of Cologne


Panel Three | Innovations of democracy - new modes of forming collective decisions

Chair: Claus Offe, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, and Professor Emeritus, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Video 1 - Jon Elster, Columbia University, New York, and Collège de France, Paris
Video 2 - Robert E. Goodin, Australian National University, Canberra, and University of Essex
Video 3 - Lea Ypi, London School of Economics, and Australian National University, Canberra