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Liberal democracy in hard times: transitions, dilemmas and innovations

Symposium in honour of Claus Offe

Democracy – as promise and reality – once again finds itself at the centre of public discourse and politics across the globe. In the United States, the financial crisis has increasingly left citizens disappointed with political leaders and decision-making processes. Similarly, the democratic deficit of the European Union has been highly contested.

In the Middle East and North Africa, citizens accomplished the unexpected by standing up against authoritarian regimes. The effects of globalisation, especially the global finance system, are putting representative democracy to a test; the demand for greater transparency and accountability as well as calls for a new range of responsibilities and responsiveness may imply fundamental changes to how we approach governance.

Claus Offe
Gesine Schwan
Helmut K. Anheier
Ivan Krastev
Jacques Rupnik
Jon Elster
Jürgen Habermas
Lea Ypi and Claus Offe
Micheline Ishay
Philippe Schmitter
Robert E. Goodin
Stephen Holmes
Ulrich K. Preuß
Wolfgang Streeck

The Hertie School welcomed some of the most renowned and distinguished scholars of modern political thought. Together they discussed the development of modern democracies, their forms and performance as well as governance innovations and approaches to rethinking the future of democracy in the global age of the 21st century: all issues that have characterised Professor Claus Offe’s research and academic career.


Helmut K. Anheier, Dean and President, Hertie School
Claus Offe, Professor of Political Sociology, Hertie School

Panel One | Transitions to democracy – conditions, modes, quality of outcomes

Stephen Holmes, Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

Micheline Ishay, Professor of international studies and human rights, University of Denver.
Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia; permanent fellow at the IWM Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna
Jacques Rupnik, Director of Research at CERI, Sciences-Po; Professor, College of Europe, Bruges

Panel Two | Crises and dilemmas of democracy – diagnoses and prospects

Jürgen Habermas, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

Ulrich K. Preuß, Professor Emeritus, Hertie School

Philippe C. Schmitter, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, European University Institute, Florence

Wolfgang Streeck, Director, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies; Professor of Sociology, University of Cologne

Panel Three | Innovations of democracy – new modes of forming collective decisions

Jon Elster, Robert K. Merton Professor of Social Sciences, Columbia University New York; Professor, Collège de France, Paris

Robert E. Goodin, distinguished Professor of Philosophy,  Australian National University; Professor of Government, University of Essex

Claus Offe, Professor of Political Sociology, Hertie School

Lea Ypi, Lecturer in Political Theory, London School of Economics and Political Science; Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Australian National University