We have long thought of democracy as the highest achievement of Western political history, but people are increasingly questioning the model and no wonder. Today, electoral campaigns and referenda polarise populations, political groups with a non-democratic agenda are able to gain a massive influence over public discourse, and many politicians from mainstream parties rely on an us-vs-them rhetoric to win elections. Free to vote often means free to hate. Should we give it up for good? Political scientist & author Peter Vermeersch offers a way out of the pessimism: public conversation. He argues that a democracy that is less obsessed with electoral competition and more focused on civic cooperation can still achieve marvellous results.
Peter Vermeersch is professor of political science at KU Leuven and research coordinator of LINES Institute for International and European Studies, as well as an essayist and a novelist. Extremely insightful when it comes to debating the anatomy of democracy, he regularly tours Europe examining and discussing ways to renew and reinvent democracy. He has been researcher-in-residence at the OSCE Secretariat in Prague (2001) and visiting scholar at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University (2007-2008). His research focuses on ethnic mobilization, minority politics, multicultural citizenship, resurgent nationalism and party politics in Central Europe and in the Balkans. Together with David Van Reybrouck, he brought to life the European Constitution in Verse.
The EU enlargement and gay politics. The impact of Eastern enlargement on rights, activism and prejudice (2016), Creative democracy in Europe (article, 2015), Ex. Over een land dat zoek is (2014), Innovating democracy in times of crisis: solution or utopia? (article, 2013), Deliberative democracy in Belgium (article, 2012), Letters to Europe (2011), The Romani movement: Minority Politics and Ethnic Mobilization in Contemporary Central Europe (2011).
Peter Vermeersch's website
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