Hanna Wass: Too much of a good thing? The future of the antifragile democracy

Datum: 25 oktober 2017
Tid: 10:00-12:00

Hanna Wass is an Academy Research Fellow and University Lecturer in the Department of Political and Economic Studies at the University of Helsinki.


As a potentially antifragile system, the strength of democracy lies in its capacity to improve after shocks, whether external or internal. For such a learning to take place, an interpretation of political processes and their causes and consequences needs to be accurate. In a current situation, elections keep on bringing surprises to political elites and commentators, which only reflects political systems’ reduced capacity to understand and respond to fluxing needs among the electorate. This may be partly due to fact that many of the prevailing models of political behavior, such as the ‘folk theory of (electoral) democracy’ (see Achen and Bartels 2016), have been developed in an era which circumstances dramatically differed from those characterizing liberal democracies in 2010s. Hence, not only our perception of risks but also their cure might be insufficient or misinformed. This paper seeks to identify a variety of indicators for democratic deconsolidation (cf. Foa and Mounk 2016) of which some are well-established, such as differentiation of political engagement and support for stealth democracy, while others are more are up-and-coming in nature, including the wagering border between politics and jurisdiction, and a shift from consensus to dissensus (cf. Hooghe and Marks 2009).  I conclude by discussing the suggested means to target these risks and the danger of “democratic overload”.

Hanna Wass research project “Equality in Electoral Participation and Vote Choice”, funded by the Academy of Finland, examines political engagement and inclusive democratic representation from various perspectives. She is a member of the steering committee for the Finnish National Election Study, and the co-convenor of the ECPR standing group “Public Opinion and Voting Behavior”. Her work has been published in journals such as Political Research Quarterly, Electoral Studies, the European Journal of Political Research, and Political Science Research and Methods. She is a co-author of the book “Health and Political Engagement”, forthcoming in Routledge in 2017.

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