Berlin, Germany

What Does Democracy Mean in the 21st Century?

Photo courtesy of Justin Mitchell/Flickr.

A Zócalo/KCRW Berlin Event
In partnership with the Daniel K. Inouye Institute and Villa Aurora/Thomas Mann House
Moderated by Warren Olney, Host, KCRW’s “To the Point”
CIEE Global Institute
Gneisenaustraße 27
Berlin 10961

Democracy can mean very different things—majority rule, self-governance, the way we vote for our favorite contestants on TV dance competitions—to different people and in different places. Our lack of a shared definition of democracy adds to the confusion in times like our own, when we hear warnings of grave and growing threats to democracy. What does “democracy” really mean now in a world where almost every country purports to be democratic? Is it possible to identify essential elements of democracy that are common to the different polities of our diverse world? Is democracy really on the decline today, and what sort of civic culture, institutional norms, and public participation do societies need to be truly democratic? Oxford political scientist Stein Ringen, Brookings Institution/Robert Bosch Foundation fellow and former Clinton Administration foreign policy advisor Ted Piccone, and Mélida Jiménez, Head of the Democracy Assessment, Analysis, and Advisory Unit at International IDEA, visit Zócalo to consider how we can define and defend our democracies.