In many countries, distrust in public institutions and elites are on the rise; among other things, this has resulted in the increasing support and electoral success of populist, nationalist, and authoritarian leaders, which demonstrates the level of alienation from basic democratic values, procedures, and institutions evident amongst the public. Against this backdrop, the legitimation and effectiveness of traditional parliamentary democracies and their institutions have come into question. But is democracy really too slow to respond to a state of crisis, too much built on consensus mechanisms, and too dependent on dominant media or pressure groups?
Within this program, THE NEW INSTITUTE attends to both the current state of affairs and the future of democracy. We want to explore further how democracy can be reconfigured for the long term. Over the last centuries, democracy has been reinvented many times and taken different forms; it may now once again be time for a fundamental transformation to make democratic decision-making processes and the respective institutions fit for the future – more responsive to contexts, more equitable, and more sustainable. How can we strengthen democratic communities, encourage participation, and modernize democratic institutions? How can we redefine existing political structures and configurations so that they are compatible with a commitment to equity and environmental protection?