The economic basis of democracy

Has the depoliticization of economic policymaking contributed to the crisis of democracy in Europe?

Research event, Panel Recording
15 November 2022 — 5:00PM TO 6:00PM

democracy in Europe

Understanding contemporary challenges to democracy in Europe requires looking beyond the rise of ‘populism’. A sharp increase in economic inequality over the past decades has translated into political inequality.

This suggests it is not just the policies themselves that need to be looked at to understand the current anti-system political backlash, but also how policy is made.

A recent paper published by the Europe programme at Chatham House argues that economic policymaking has one further in the EU than anywhere else, often entrenching economic inequality by taking economic policy questions out of the sphere of democratic contestation. 

The green economic transition and other policy challenges such as tackling high inflation means it is critical to understand how economic change can be successfully accomplished without triggering a political backlash.

Cas Muddle and several of the other authors of this report discuss its findings, what it means for the current movement and for the outlook for democracy in Europe.

Key questions considered include:

  • Should the rise of populist and other anti-system political forces, including their recent successes, be seen as a response to the economic settlement over the past 40 years?
  • What is the relationship between economic inequality and political inequality?
  • If, as the report suggests, European democracy needs a re-politicization of economic policymaking, how could this be done?

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