The Future of Democracy

After the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy and international cooperation seemed to be the only game in town. 30 years on, we have come to realize that democracy is being challenged both by actors within established democracies as well as by authoritarian regimes like China or Russia. At the same time, multilateral international cooperation and supranational integration have come increasingly under stress and are being questioned by nationalists around the world. This happens against the backdrop of a highly globalized and integrated world where globalization is usefully analyzed as a structural condition of the international system. Our joint research agenda “The Future of Democracy in a Globalized World” analyzes challenges to democracy under this condition in order to think about the future of democratic participation, human rights and the rule of law. 


Specifically, we propose to address the following topics:

  • Algorithmic governance
  • Depoliticization
  • Demographic change
  • Political polarization
  • Inequality and redestribution
  • Work and labor relations
  • Climate change
  • Cyber warfare and disinformation
  • Populism and extremism


These maybe THE core topics of our time and beyond. The locus of democratically legitimized decision making becomes increasingly incongruent with the challenges that transcend boundaries (e.g. climate change, international migration, hybrid modes of warfare), thereby de-legitimizing established modes of democratic decision making in a globalized context. Neither established democracies nor new institutions of multi-level governance like the EU have developed convincing models to address this problem. They have, therefore, become vulnerable to attacks on their foundation – the consent of those governed.