Democracy is now universally valued, and no powerful alternative exists today to societies governed by the will of the people, expressed in free and fair elections. The ongoing collapse of Arab authoritarianism is a striking manifestation of democracy’s appeal. However, at the same time, democracy seems to be in crisis in Europe: trust in democratic institutions and voters' turnout is declining dramatically, whereas populism as well as xenophobia are on the rise and the common public sphere is fragmenting. “Is Liberal Democracy at Risk?” – this question was at the center of a public debate at the Vienna Akademietheater on June 26. Emma Bonino, Vice President of the Italian Senate, Ronald Dworkin, Professor of Philosophy at New York and Oxford Universities, George Soros, the founder of the Open Society Foundations, as well as former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Canadian philosopher and IWM Permenant Fellow Charles Taylor were on stage to discuss what can be done to save democracy in times of political turmoil.
Vice-president of the Italian Senate; Minister for International Trade in the cabinet of Romano Prodi from 2006 to 2008
Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law, New York University and Oxford University
Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations.
Chairperson of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament; Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008.
Professor em. of Philosophy, McGill University, Montréal; IWM Permanent Fellow