Democracy is well-established and soundly practiced in most European countries. But despite unprecedented progress, there is growing dissatisfaction with the state of democracy and deepening mistrust of democratic institutions; a situation exacerbated by the economic crisis. Are Europe's democracies really under threat? Has the traditional model of European democracy exhausted its potential? A broad consensus is forming as to the urgent need to examine the origins of the crisis and to explore visions and strategies which could contribute to rebuilding confidence in democracy.
As Europe's guardian of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the Council of Europe is committed to exploring the state and practice of European democracy, as well as identifying new challenges and anticipating future trends. In order to facilitate this reflection, the Council of Europe held a series of Democracy Debates with the participation of renowned specialists working in a variety of backgrounds and disciplines.
This publication presents the eight Democracy Debate lectures. Each presentation analyses a specific aspect of democracy today, placing the issues not only in their political context but also addressing the historical, technological and communication dimensions. The authors make proposals on ways to improve democratic governance and offer their predictions on how democracy in Europe may evolve. Together, the presentations contribute to improving our understanding of democracy today and to recognising the ways it could be protected and strengthened.