Is There a Crisis of Democracy in Europe?
This paper discusses the current prospects of democracy in Europe from four perspectives: the birdʼs-eye view of long-term trends; the perspective of citizens’ support of democratic principles and their dissatisfaction with the way democracy works in their own countries; the voters’ perspective, which points to the rise of populist challengers in reaction to rising democratic dissatisfaction; and the elites’ perspective of populists in power. Overall, there is reason for concern, but no reason to dramatize. The long-term trends point to the expansion of democracy; the citizens’ support for democracy is still massive in Europe. At the same time, democratic dissatisfaction is widespread, giving rise to the surge of populist challengers from the left and the right. However, even if they gain power, populists meet with a large number of constraints that stabilize democracy.