CEST Graz 2015

Populism, Majoritarianism and Crises of Liberal Democracy

1st Annual European Symposium on Turkey

The Inaugural Symposium on Turkey dealt with the problematic stepchildren of democracy: Populism, majoritarianism and competitive authoritarianism. These three modes of governance and contestation have become increasingly pronounced, to an extent even within solidly democratic polities. Several processes, from globalisation and transnational threats to the de-democratising effects of global financial flows, have narrowed down the space of democratic decision-making, while privatising public goods and the policing of public space. In the peripheries of the democratic world, the vulnerable borderlands, illiberal modes of governance sometimes displace democratic power arrangements.

Yet how exactly does governance in illiberal contexts, in the range between democracies and full dictatorships, proceed? What do governments, which neither adhere to democratic principles nor want to be seen as brutal dictatorships, do in order to manufacture consent and maintain social cohesion? How meaningful are electoral and party politics in political systems where most decisions are taken in exclusive centres of power? Under which conditions do weak democracies give way to post-democratic arrangements of power, and how sustainable can such post-democratic arrangements be?

These are some of the questions, which the Inaugural Symposium engaged with in its study of the contemporary Turkish case and comparative cases in the Balkans, Russia and beyond