Trilogue Salzburg

The articles included in this background paper Reviving Democracy in a Fragmented World – Not Attractive Anymore or Still a Success Story? have been written in preparation for the 17th Trilogue Salzburg, which focuses on the question of whether republican democracy remains the uncontested and undisputed form of government as has been postulated in the last decades.

The background paper seeks to promote a discussion of how politics, business and the arts define the essence of democracy while also examining its shortcomings. It also takes a closer look at underlying questions of power (distribution), participation and decision-making within democratic and autocratic governments. It addresses the questions of what the minimum standards of democracies are and which deficiencies of the democratic model have led to questioning the model as a whole and which solutions could overcome this deficit. The paper includes seven original pieces of research which examine how we can revive democracy in a fragmented world.


trilogue salzburg democracy

The first article, Taking Stock of Democracy – Still a Success Story or not Competitive Anymore?, provides an overview of the history and phenomenon of democracy. The authors show the existing challenges and shortcomings of democratization. The paper makes a number of recommendations for a revitalization of democracy.

About the authors:

Dr. Jörg Habich Senior Project Manager and responsible for the Leaders’ Dialogues at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh. Additionally to the Trilogue Salzburg, his area of responsibility comprises the Forum Bellevue zur Zukunft der Demokratie, a discussion on the future of democracy hosted by German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Since joining the foundation, he has led a range of projects on labor law, the labor market, crisis management and various other topics. Studied Business Administration with a focus on Human Resource Management and Organizational Theory at the University of Paderborn. He has a doctoral degree in Business Administration from the University of Paderborn and is the author of books and articles on global challenges, leadership and management.

Verena Nowotny Partner at Gaisberg Consulting, a communications agency based in Vienna. With more than 20 years of international experience in the areas of strategic communications and public affairs, she supports corporate business, start-ups and institutions with positioning and with acute and preventative crisis communications. Verena Nowotny worked for many years as the foreign policy press spokesperson for former Austrian Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. Thereafter she lived and worked in Shanghai, then moved on to New York where she served as spokesperson for Austria’s non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council. She holds a Master’s degree in political management from the George Washington University (Washington, DC). 

Christina Tillmann Director at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh. She joined the Bertelsmann Stiftung in 2008 and co-directs the program “Future of Democracy”. The program analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of democracy in Germany, the EU and in International Organizations and develops recommendations to increase the democratic legitimacy on all these levels. Her research is centered on democracy, political participation and political reforms. Prior to joining the Bertelsmann Stiftung, she was a political strategy consultant. She studied in Germany and the US and holds M.A. degrees in political science and public law (University of Münster) and public administration (University of Administrative Science, Speyer).

Even if history does not repeat itself, the research paper Decoding the Writings on the Wall: Analyzing Democracy from a Historical Point of View looks back to revolutionary situations in the past. It examines analogies, structural similarities and differences between various historical phenomena. The author formulates recommendations on a general and reflective level based on lessons learned from the past.

About the author:

Professor Dr. Daniel Schönpflug Professor of history at the Free University, Berlin, and Academic Coordinator of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. His main fields of research are the history of revolutions and of terrorism in 18.-20. century Europe. He has been a guest professor at the Sorbonne, a Fellow at the German Historical Institute in London and at Harvard University. In 2010 he was awarded the Gay-Lussac-Humboldt Price by the French Ministry of Research and Education. As the author of filmscripts and newspaper articles, as expert and consultant on radio and television programs, he has also successfully brought history to a wider public.

The article The Square People – Politics of Protests starts by discussing the growing feeling that democracy as a form of government could have outlived its usefullness in the face of the social, cultural and technolgicial transformations that we are experiencing. It then analyzes why this has happened. The paper examines the effects of protest politics as well as reasons for hope.

About the author:

Ivan Krastev Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna. He is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Board of Trustees of The International Crisis Group and is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. In 2018-2019 he is appointed as the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress. His latest books in English are “After Europe” (UPenn Press, May 2017) “Democracy Disrupted. The Global Politics on Protest” (UPenn Press, May 2014); “In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don’t Trust Our Leaders?” (TED Books, 2013). He is a co-author with Stephen Holmes of a forthcoming book “The Light that Failed” (with Penguin) on perils of the politics of imitation.

Democracy – Its Substance and Meaning: Can One Size Fit All? focusses on the differences and standards of various democratic systems. The article provides an overview of governance and government and the components of a functioning liberal democracy. The author closes with recommendations on what to do.

About the author:

Seán Cleary Managing Director at Centre of Advanced Governance and Executive Vice-Chair of FutureWorld Foundation; Chairman, Strategic Concepts (Pty) Ltd; Member of the Board, Salzburg Global Seminar; Chairman: Advisory Board, Global Economic Symposium; Strategic Adviser, World Economic Forum. Faculty member, Parmenides Foundation; Lecturer on global corporate strategy, conflict resolution and development; Chair, Working Group on Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Organizations, South African National Peace Accord; Trustee: SA Foundation for Conciliation; Peace and Reconstruction Foundation. He was a Diplomat and Chief Director of the Office of the Administrator-General, Namibia. He holds qualifications in social science and law from the University of South Africa, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Brunel University, UK.

The author of The Erosion of Democracy in Developing and Transition Countries uses the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index (BTI) and its three-pronged approach of assessing state stability, investigating participative and constitutional democracy and analyzing democratic consolidation to describe the level of transformation and the quality of democracy all over the world. The BTI measures and compares transition processes in 129 transformation countries with data collected between 2015 and 2017, providing global ratings based on detailed country reports. Using evidence-based findings, the author shows that there has been an erosion of democracy worldwide.

About the author:

Dr. Hauke Hartmann  Senior Expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh. He joined the Bertelsmann Stiftung in 1999 and directs the Transformation Index BTI measuring the quality of democracy, market economy and governance in 129 developing countries. His research is centered on democratization and human rights, with a regional focus on Arab and Latin American countries. He was a Fellow at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies and received his Ph.D. for his thesis on US human rights policy under President Carter from Free University of Berlin. He holds an M.A. in North American Studies (John F. Kennedy Institute Berlin) and in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (State University of New York) and previously worked for the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

The sixth research paper, Democracy, an Economic Review – Open Market Economies Under Pressure, explores the economic superiority of open market economies. The author argues that although criticism of some economic developments in Western industrialized nations is justifiable, the market-based economic system is still an extremely successful model that is superior to all other existing economic systems. The article closes with economic policy implications.

About the author:

Dr. Thieß Petersen Senior Advisor at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh. He joined the Bertelsmann Stiftung in 2004 and specializes in macroeconomic studies and economics. He studied economics in Paderborn and Kiel before joining the Institute for Theoretical Economics at Christian Albrechts University in Kiel as a research assistant. He then became a research assistant and lecturer in economics at the University of Applied Sciences in Heide. After that he was a project adviser at the DAG Forum Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, later becoming the forum’s managing director. In addition to his work for the Bertelsmann Stiftung, he is a lecturer at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), where he specializes in macroeconomics, economic growth and public finance.

The last article, Arts and Culture: Keeping Democracy Alive or Entertainment for the Establishment?, describes the influence of art and culture on democratic politcal systems and focusses on various stakeholders, concluding with some remarks about the culturalization of the social realm. The authors investigate current aspects of the crisis of democracy while sketching out the crisis of legitimacy, trust and representation. They describe challenges stemming from the growing role of identity politics and use two examples to illustrate how cultural and political education are generating new ideas. They also discuss the importance of trans-national educational scenarios. The article concludes with recommendations for the European Union.

About the authors:

Dr. Sabine Dengel studied political science, sociology, social psychology and philosophie at the Universität des Saarlandes and earned her PhD for a study on political education in the German Kaisererreich, in National Socialism and in the GDR. After employments in research and teaching in the academy, in urban development and as freelance project manager for political and civic education, she is since 2008 consultant for civic and cultural education for the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb). Since 2018, she directs the project group “civic education and culture”. Her work focuses on modern political theory, theories of civic and cultural education, (historical) educational research, democracy theory.

Thomas Krüger Director of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education since 2000. After being a founding member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the former GDR, and becoming the executive director of the SDP in Berlin (East), Thomas Krüger became deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in Berlin (East/West). Subsequently, he was the city’s Senator for Youth and Family Affairs (1991-1994) and a member of the German Parliament, the Bundestag (1994-1998). Thomas Krüger was and still is a member of various cultural committees, such as the German Federal Film Board (FFA – Filmförderungsanstalt 1995-1999), the Internationale Stadtschlosskommission, member of the Jury of the Capital Cultural Fund (Hauptstadtkulturfonds), 2005-2009, member of the Supervisory Board of the „Initiative Musik“ (2007–2011), member of the Jury of contemporary music (Musikfonds) (since 2017), member of the board of the Council of Cultural Education (since 2018).