Populism isn’t just a threat to democracy – it may also be an opportunity, if we can work out how to harness it. That’s why REPRESENT co-hosted a conference in Brussels in June 2018, bringing together leaders form a variety of backgrounds to discuss how democratic institutions can respond to the threats and opportunities created by populism in a way that ensures the sustainability of democracy in the long term. During the discussions, a consensus emerged among conference participants that the best response to populism is not to attack it. Instead, efforts should be made to improve the quality, transparency and functioning of democratic institutions, which would, in turn, address the underlying drivers of populism. This should include investments in the renewal of representative mechanisms and institutions.
To this end, REPRESENT, along with our conference co-hosts — International IDEA, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), and the Netherlands Institute for Multi-party Democracy (NIMD) — have distilled a Proposed Global Agenda for the Renewal of Representation, based on the conference discussions. This Global Agenda is designed to focus attention on the constructive and concrete steps that different actors can take to respond to populism by strengthening democracy, in both established democracies and countries where democracy is less deeply entrenched.
Together with our co-hosts, we invite actors at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels to respond to the Agenda by taking necessary actions to invest in the renewal of representation and the strengthening of democracy.
Hear more about the proposals from some leading experts (via the International IDEA website):
- Michelle Bachelet: Why we need to get creative – and get serious – about political participation.
- Delia Ferreira Rubio: The need to improve integrity of political institutions.
- Cas Mudde: On why we should invest in civic education and digital media literacy.
- Michelle Bachelet: Why we should dare to defend democracy.