Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsWelcome to the fifth week of the course, where we examine democracy in Europe. You will learn to untangle links between Europe, democracy, identity, and European integration. First, together with Dr. Couperus, you will learn how to historicise democracy. You will examine democracy from a perspective of history and learn that democracy was not always viewed as good or desirable. A second Professor Mach from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow will help you see how the idea of Europe as a democratic space was translated into the EU's integration project.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsAnd you will see how this idea might be in crisis due to the rise of very liberal democracies Finally, you will examine possibilities for alternatives-- some very abstract ones and some very concrete, alive, and flourishing. We will ask you to apply this newly gained knowledge in thinking about and developing concrete proposals on how to improve democratic practices in Europe.

Overview of the week

Welcome to the fifth week of the course! In this week, we will take a look at democracy in Europe.

Europe is the craddle of democracy, you often hear: in ancient Athens, the first democratic systems were invented. Today’s idea and practice of democracy differs.

Recall that, two weeks ago, we described one of modernity’s key features as the questioning of authority. Enlightenment philosophers and political thinkers rejected the idea that monarchs ruled by the grace of God. Not the monarch, but the people were sovereign; and so, Europe’s modern democratic systems started to develop.

As we saw last week, Europe’s most important unit of political organisation was the nation-state (this was very visible after the First World War). Therefore, democracy was also fixed on this level. It was only after the Second World War that the link between the nation-state and democracy started to erode. European integration made concrete the possibility of democracy on a higher, supranational level.

In recent years, present practices of democracy have been challenged from two sides. There are, firstly, serious doubts among citizens, scholars and politicians whether ‘EU democracy’ can work. They speak of a democratic deficit, or lack of democracy, among EU institutions.

Additionally, illiberal forms of democracy have emerged. Majority rule seems to have surpassed attention for minority voices.

This week, you will learn more about these changes to and challenges of democracy.

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European Culture and Politics

University of Groningen

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