Crisis and Transition, But Not Decline

Issue Date January 2015
Volume 26
Issue 1
Page Numbers 32-44
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There seems to be an overwhelming consensus among scholars and politicians that democracy as a practice is in decline. At the same time, however, it is widely accepted that the desire for democracy as an ideal—that is, self-rule by citizens possessing equal rights and having equal influence over the choice of leaders and the conduct of public affairs—has never been greater or more broadly distributed. A widening of this gap between the real and the ideal characterizes the present crisis—hence the growing pressure not to dismantle or destroy democracy as such, but rather to change the way in which it is being practiced. Democracy will survive by transitioning into a new, as yet unknown, form.

About the Author

Philippe C. Schmitter, professor emeritus in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute, previously taught at the University of Chicago and Stanford University. He is the coeditor (with Guillermo O’Donnell and Laurence Whitehead) of the seminal four-volume series Transitions from Authoritarian Rule.

View all work by Philippe C. Schmitter