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Is democracy on the retreat?

Several researchers are warning that the economic crisis can seriously undermine global democratic development. New research at Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences, will study whether we can learn from historical examples of democracies’ birth and death.

2012.05.09 | Jesper Toft Madsen

Recession was behind the democratic decline in the inter-war period, believe researchers. Photo: Colourbox

?Democratic developments, which saw a surge after the Cold War, have ebbed off in recent years. As a result, several researchers have predicted that we may be on the verge of a new global democratic decline. It has therefore become more important to understand the historical events which have given birth to new democracies and led to democratic breakthroughs.

- All of us – researchers, politicians and journalists – have a tendency to use the past to understand the future. Which is why it is so important that the basic historical contexts are correctly understood, says Associate Professor Jørgen Møller from the Department of Political Science and Government, adding:

- Many people have suggested that the economic crisis in the inter-war period was behind the widespread decline in democracy, and that the current recession will spark renewed decline. 

Jørgen Møller and his colleague Svend-Erik Skaaning have been awarded DKK 300,000 from AU Ideas to analyse the breakdown and survival of democracies in the inter-war period and to study whether history is relevant to the situation today. 

The two AU researchers hope that an introductory workshop with international colleagues will pave the way for bigger grants, collaboration with historians and one or more PhD students coming on board.

About AU Ideas
AU Ideas is a new joint initiative established by the Aarhus University Research Foundation and Aarhus University. So far, the foundation has awarded grants totalling DKK 13 million to 30 so-called project developments. The projects last between one and two years and enable researchers to expand on an idea and test its resilience with a view to establishing bigger projects.

Further comments

 Jørgen Møller

Jørgen Møller, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science and Government
Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences
Telephone: +45 8715 2203
Email: jm@ps.au.dk
Web: pure.au.dk/portal/da/jm@ps.au.dk

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Jesper Toft Madsen

Revised 15.07.2016