Towards the End of the left / right Paradigm

With the rise of populism on both sides of the political scpectrum, raising new oppositions, is the traditional left/right political divide still relevant to understand contemporary European societies? Four experts from Europe and beyond answer this critical question.

This commentary was first published in QUERIES, Spring 2015, p. 27-31

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Verzerrte Gesellschaft, Marcus Krämer im Gespräch mit Wolfgang Merkel

Ist die Demokratie in einer Krise? Straßenproteste und neue Parteien sind Normalität, sagt der Politikwissenschaftler Wolfgang Merkel. Ihn treibt eine ganz andere Sorge um.

Schon Platon und Aristoteles sprachen von einer Krise der Demokratie. Doch in letzter Zeit scheint das ewige Thema wieder brisant zu werden: soziale Ungleichheit, sinkende Wahlbeteiligung, Zusammenprall der Kulturen, Massenproteste in Dresden. Der Politikwissenschaftler Wolfgang Merkel befasst sich seit Jahren mit den Stärken und Schwächen demokratischer Systeme. Er warnt davor, dass sich ein Teil der Bevölkerung von der Politik verabschiedet.

Dieser Beitrag erschien zuerst bei Sächsische Zeitung Online am 17. März 2015

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In Search of Lost Consensus: Finnish Politics Four Years after the „jytky“

Saara Inkinen, Research Fellow of the Research Unit Democracy and Democratization

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, the ceding Prime Minister Alexander Stubb was asked to reflect upon his time in office with an eye to the upcoming Finnish parliamentary elections on April 19. His response was as short as it was poignant: his premiership had been a „traumatic experience“.[i] Looking back on the four years that have passed since the last parliamentary elections in 2011, it is not difficult to see what prompted Stubb to make this statement. Finnish politics has traditionally been guided by the principle of consensus, which has allowed political elites across the left-right spectrum to reach pragmatic compromises on core societal issues. Yet the past parliamentary term has been anything but consensual. Not only has the coalition government been torn by internal disagreements almost since the day of its inception; it has also proven incapable of taking much-needed political action to combat a shrinking economy, rising unemployment rates and a state budget deficit that is predicted to swell to 124 billion Euros in the coming years. In short, Stubb’s cabinet is at real risk to go down in history as one of the worst governments the country has ever had.

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