The state and practice of democracy in 2018

These are anxious times for liberal democracy’s true believers. They’ve seen the rise of strongman autocrats and xenophobic populists across a full spectrum of democratic countries, not to mention the disruptive force of Donald Trump. Cyber attacks, big data, social media, and voter indifference, anger and disillusionment all seem to leave the future of liberal democracy looking rather uncertain. On this month's edition of The Enright Files we explore the state of democracy in 2018.
These are anxious times for liberal democracy’s true believers. They’ve seen the rise of strongman autocrats and xenophobic populists across a full spectrum of democratic countries, not to mention the disruptive force of Donald Trump. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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In 1992, Francis Fukuyama published The End of History? He argued that with the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet empire, liberal democracy had triumphed once and for all. It would become entrenched as the preferred system of government around the world. 

Twenty-five years later, Fukuyama was fearful about the future of liberal democracy. 

He had seen Donald Trump, the Brexit vote, and the rise of xenophobic populist parties across Western Europe. Burgeoning democracies in Poland and Hungary had made stunning U-turns and elected demagogic governments that rolled back democratic freedoms.

Democratically elected leaders in Turkey, Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe were devolving into autocrats and subverting the democratic process. 

And many, sometimes a majority, of the voters seem perfectly content, even eager, to return anti-democratic governments to office.

Democracy is also under assault by cyber attacks from foreign countries, most notoriously Russia. Social media is used to spread misinformation and to inflame the polarization that has poisoned political discourse. And reams of microdata gleaned from social media and other Internet sources are used to manipulate voters.

The future of liberal democracy hasn't looked so uncertain since the darkest days of the Second World War. 

On this month's edition of The Enright Files, just two months from a pivotal American election, we look at the state of democracy and democratic politics in the Western world.

Guests in this episode:



**The Enright Files is produced by Chris Wodskou.

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