We are living in times of individual, political, economic and societal uncertainty. Europe is confronted with an unprecedented crisis, an internal self-questioning of the project itself manifested by the rise of nationalism and populism, coupled with external challenges in the wave of refugees, the crisis in the Middle East and Russia.
Brexit and Trump, the democratic regression in Poland and Hungary, among other things, have sown doubts in all spheres of social and political life about the future of the liberal democratic order.
Loss of trust in institutions, the erosion of mainstream parties, and the rise of social movements have led to the questioning of the very forms of our politics and democracy. The “democratic deficit”, the erosion of democratic legitimacy in Europe were, early expressions of the citizenry’s loss of self-confidence in its power to influence life in their state and community as globalisation advanced.
Europe has seen difficult and dark times before. In spite of all challenges, the European construct remains a historical success which needs a serious overhaul. Europe will come out of this crisis changed and hopefully stronger. But how and when: that depends on statesmanship and civic initiatives – on the engagement to uphold the democratic values and institutions that have underpinned our freedom.
“But where danger lurks, the saving power also grows.”
Ivan Vejvoda joined the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) as a Permanent Fellow in January 2017 from the position of Senior Vice President for Programs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He is also director of the project “Europe’s Futures”, a major initiative of the IWM in partnership with ERSTE Foundation, and with support from Erste Group Bank AG.