March 12.– Maria João Rodrigues (photo), President of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), argues that new aspirations for democracy and media are yet to be met
A decline in trust and engagement towards our democratic institutions has been a central question when it comes to citizens, especially young people. Is it the people who are the problem or should we rather look for solutions to renovate democracy and its basic infrastructure, the media system?
It is clear that our democratic institutions must be renovated for the 21st century. While their liberal and republican foundations should certainly be kept and protected (elements such as fundamental rights and the separation of powers are the basics) they should also be strengthened by updating the content of the Res Publica, the public good (taking into account new challenges such as the climate, health, and education) and by realigning the fundamental rights and duties of citizens with them.
But in order to define the content and scope of these new public goods, there needs to be a new democratic contract. In today’s world, the current institutional arrangement is no longer enough: more and more citizens aspire to have an increasingly active role in the public deliberations that are shaping their future. This means that our institutions of representative democracy must take more seriously the need to develop new tools of participatory democracy – and in fact, these tools are being invented anyway!
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