Democracy in Retreat

Democracy’s “third wave”—the spectacular blossoming of open political systems after the Cold War—is receding. In Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, major democracies are now backsliding toward authoritarianism. And in the West populist candidates proposing illiberal policies are achieving previously unimaginable success.

Democracy is facing a global crisis of confidence. The failures of elected governments to respond to the disruptive effects of globalization and technological change, and tackle the resulting inequality, corruption, and political dysfunction, are fostering a culture of cynicism. At the same time new forms of political communication are altering the tone of political discourse in ways that erode faith in elites and institutions.

What comes next for the world’s democracies? Can governments and civil society bridge the growing disconnect between citizens and their elected leaders? Can open political systems be retooled to confront the complexity and volatility of the global age? Policy experts, researchers, and practitioners will convene at this half-day symposium to examine the retreat and renewal of global democracy.

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Speaker Bio


Registration and Light Breakfast

8:30 - 9:00 a.m. 

Panel 1: Ballots Without Borders: Democracy in the Global Age

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
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Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Center on Democracy, Development & the Rule of Law, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University
EJ Dionne, W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
Yascha Mounk, Lecturer on Political Theory, Harvard University
Vendeline von Bredow, Midwest Correspondent, The Economist

Panel 2: Skeptics and Strongmen: Democracy's Detractors

10:30 - 11:45 a.m. 
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Francis Fukuyama, Oliver Nomellini Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University (via webcast)
Edward Luce, Chief US Commentator, Financial Times
Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center on the United States and Europe, The Brookings Institution
Moderated by Susan Glasser, Chief International Affairs Columnist, POLITICO

Lunch Keynote: Renewal or Retreat: Democracy's Next Decade

12 noon - 1:15 p.m.
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Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute


Democracy After Trump: Can a Populist Stop Democratic Decline?
Diamond, Larry, Foreign Affairs, November 14, 2016

2017 Is Not Looking So Good For Germany
Stelzenmuller, Constanze, The Washington Post, December 30, 2016

A Year to Save Democracy
Dionne, EJ, The Washington Post, January 1, 2017

Arthur Brooks: The Word Dignity Explains Why Donald Trump is President
Brooks, Arthur, The Washington Post, January 24, 2017

Trump and the Siege of Washington
Luce, Edward, Financial Times, February 19, 2017

Francis Fukuyama: Democracy Needs Elites
Gorlach, Alexander, The Huffington Post, March 2, 2017

How Anti-Democratic Propaganda is Taking Over the World
Walker, Christopher, POLITICO Magazine, March 3, 2017

Democracy's Uncertain Future
Heaven, Douglas, BBC News, March 30, 2017