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Cosmopolitanism versus Communitarianism: A New Conflict in European Democracies

Wolfgang Merkel ; WZB Centar za društvene znanosti Berlin

Full text: croatian pdf 207 Kb

page 73-86

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The author identifies the emergence of a new cosmopolitan-comunitarian political cleavage based on comparative research of elites in five countries (Germany, Poland, Turkey, Mexico and USA) and date from the World Values Survey (WVS) and the Transatlantic Trends Survey (TT S). The new cleavage cuts right through the electorate, the party structures of the mainstream parties, creates a representation gap and opens up political space for populist parties. The author discusses the consequences of the new cleavage for democracy and warns that although new populist parties do narrow the representation gap, they also harm democracy if and when they advocate racial, ethnic, religious or gender exclusion and thus undermine the democratic principle of equality. The mainstream parties, on the other hand, may also harm democracy if they try to save it by using undemocratic prohibitions or moralistic exclusions. The author concludes by establishing the primacy of nation-state democracy as long as it is capable of organizing political decision-making more democratically than international treaties and supranational regimes.


political cleavages, populism, democracy, representation gap, cosmopolitanism, communitarianism

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