In many European countries, far-right political parties have made important gains. During the past year, elections in France, Belgium, Austria, and Italy have shown the extreme right consolidating its grip and steadily attracting new voters. If we add to this the increasing discredit of the traditional political class under the impact of repeated cases of corruption, the picture does not look good for democratic politics.
But many people dismiss these warnings; they take for granted the stability of democratic institutions; they scorn the “alarmists” who make comparisons with the situation in the 1930s. In their view, there is nothing to worry about. The globalization of the economy and the revolution in communications have established, they say, the conditions for the universalization of the Western liberal democratic model. We are on the verge of another great advance, both technological and political; democracy’s triumph in the next century can be guaranteed. It will even be a better type of democracy, one of “dialogue” rather than confrontation....
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