After the End of History
Armin Schäfer, Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Münster, will be joining the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG) from September 2019 as Scholar in Residence. During his six-month stay in Cologne, Armin Schäfer will be offering a series of lectures on the theme of “In Defense of Democracy.” They will focus on explanatory models for the current crisis of democracy and whether the success of populist parties should be met with less or more and better democracy.
In 1989, Francis Fukuyama famously predicted the End of History. Although not all countries were democratic at the time, he maintained that there were no credible rivals to the idea of “liberal democracy” left. Free markets and political freedom were close allies from his point of view. Empirical research about the spread of democracy supported Fukuyama’s bold claims—in several waves, the total and relative number of democracies had been rising across the world, reaching unprecedented levels. However, since the 1990s, a much soberer view has replaced his teleological optimism and there are signs of democratic decay even in some of the most long-standing democracies. This lecture discusses the reasons for the contemporary sense of crisis and looks at empirical evidence for democratic decline across the world.