Democracy in Decline?

Friday, 15. October 2010 | 8:30 Uhr


Wolfgang Merkel


Social Science Research Center Berlin


What is the point of crisis diagnosis? Is it primarily an invention of political theorists and can it hardly pass empirical examination? And if there was a crisis, would democracy have been in better shape in the past than it is now? Was democracy better off in Switzerland, in the United States and in Germany 50, 40 or 30 years ago than today? These and further questions were explored by the presentation of Professor Wolfgang Merkel from the Social Science Research Center Berlin. He tried to establish a differentiated dialogue on the condition of the democracy with the participants. According to his analysis, the democratic form of government is far from being at risk. Is has become more sensitive in the past years in areas such as gender issues or sexuality. The arrogance of political leaders meets with resistance among citizens or they even mobilize themselves – a good example for this is the new construction of the train station in Stuttgart”. As a consequence of this development, new small parties are founded. And this is how the important support of the population for the democracy is re-established.

Wolfgang Merkel

He was born in 1952, studied political science, history, sports, and “international relations” in Heidelberg and Bologna; teaching and research at the universities of Bielefeld, Mainz, Harvard, Madrid, and Heidelberg.

Since 2004 he’s director of the research unit “Democracy: Structures, Performance, Challenges” at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB); professor of political science at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Research focus: research on political regimes, democracy, and transformation, parties and party systems, comparative public policy, social justice and reform of the welfare state.

Further since 2004 he’s deputy chairman of the Fachkollegium Sozialwissenschaften in der DFG (review board for the social sciences of the German Research Foundation); member of the Wissenschaftlicher Beirat beim Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (advisory council of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development);

Since December 2007 Wolfgang Merkel is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

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