Temelkuran: Europe is in a severe democracy crisis

Russia’s war in Ukraine and the economic impact it is having on Europe have underscored an ongoing “crisis of democracy” that won’t be fixed with small changes, a renowned Turkish political author has warned.

“There is real panic in Europe and I feel it everywhere I go,” Ece Temelkuran, author of “How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship”, told Euronews.

She was speaking on the margin of a conference in Brussels organised by think tank Friends of Europe and entitled “Making sense of transitions in an age of crises: a Renewed Social Contract for a new era.”

“The problem is global debates or European debate about democracy has two main arteries and one of them is trying to tell us that if we can fix things a little bit here and there, if we can get rid of this leader or that leader, everything will be back to business, you know, business as usual. However, I do think that this is a deeper crisis, and the crisis of democracy is very much intertwined with the crisis of capitalism,” Temelkuran argued.

She warned for instance that “the world is becoming authoritarian” but that leaders including Hungary’s Viktor Orban, former US President Trump, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are not solely to blame.

“There are people in Europe demanding authoritarian leaders,” she continued, stressing also that “voting is not democracy.”

So-called backsliding of democracy has been observed around the world in recent years including in the US, Turkey, but also in European Union member states such as Poland and Hungary where ruling parties have weakened rule of law mechanisms.

Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, said in September during her annual State of the Union address that her institution will present a Defence of Democracy package in the coming months.

“It will bring covert foreign influence and shady funding to light.¬†We will not allow any autocracy’s Trojan horses to attack our democracies from within.”

“Many of us have taken democracy for granted for too long,” she said.