• Multiple and more frequent crises have been taking place in consolidated democracies where governments fail to solve problems, politics takes extremist directions, and entire institutional systems perform poorly.
In a few words, the performances of democracy have been disappointing, and these conditions of dissatisfaction and distress risk to undermine the legitimacy of our institutions. Despite the many differences between countries, this phenomenon is mainly related to both the European states and the United States of America.
As Russell J. Dalton’s researches show us: “the cross-national breadth of this pattern suggests it is a general feature of contemporary politics in advanced industrial democracies, not the specific experience of only a few nations.” (Dalton 39).
Dalton was correct when publishing this research more than ten years ago. Today, we observe the emergence of a new type of contemporary policies, which represents a challenge for the stability of our institutions and their democratic nature.
New colourless populisms are growing in these conditions of uncertainty. One of Alexis de Tocqueville’s lessonsis actually very important for our times. As the French political scientist and author of the famous book Democracy in America (1835) realized, new forms of despotism can develop themselves from the dysfunctions of modern representative democracy. The radicalization of politics poses important questions that still need answers: Why are our democracies changing so extremely?
Why do we face a wave of populism?
Why are our democracies under threats from movements that proclaim themselves opposite to everything our societies proclaimed to believe in?
All these questions can be summarized as follows: what is wrong with democracy in western societies?