Het onbehagen in de democratie

  • Paul Scheffer


Democratic institutions are under pressure as was also the case at the end of the sixties. But where in those days the critique was left-liberal and seeking to extend democracy, now the discomfort with democracy has concervative-populist overtones, related to the reaffirmation of exclusive, mostly national, identities. The populist critique of liberal achievements and institutions has raised questions of ethnicity and identity. The historical tension between national identiy and parliamentary democracy offers a broader frame against which the emergence of nationalist and populist movements, like the Republikaner, Front National and the Vlaams Blok can be understood.  These considerations lead to some important questions : is a parlementary democracy in the European Union possible? Does democracy need a specific cultural society? If so, European unification would break the historical link between parliamentery democracy and the nation, without realizing a democracy on a higher multi-national level. Those who want to defend the liberal democracy against the challenge of populist and nationalist political movements, will need to study more closely the cultural foundations of democracy.

How to Cite:

Scheffer, P., (1995) “Het onbehagen in de democratie”, Res Publica 37(2), 141-159. doi:

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Published on
29 Jun 1995
Peer Reviewed