Europeans can learn from each other on democratic reform

From: Chatham House
Published: Mon Apr 04 2022


Culture and history create different ideas of what good democracy is, but comparisons in Europe still help improve the overall debate about potential reform.

Across the major countries of Europe, there are plenty of ongoing debates about to how to reform democracy, but these national-level debates are often disconnected from each other and there is little attempt to learn from another's system. Instead, the tendency is to think the grass is greener on the other side, with other countries' systems being seen as better without a proper examination, and the focus being on their advantages rather than disadvantages.

But a proper comparison of democratic institutions and processes across Europe - as a Chatham House research project has been doing - helps foster a better understanding of the dilemmas and tensions in liberal democracy as a concept, and identifies the true challenges of reform.

In the UK, further devolution and reform of both the House of Lords and the electoral system - particularly to move away from first-past-the-post towards a more proportional system - have long been discussed, while in France radical parties such as La France Insoumise have called for a sixth republic' to reduce the power of the presidency.

There is less dissatisfaction with the actual system in Germany but there are calls to reduce the size of the Bundestag which has gradually grown to 736 seats and is one of the largest legislatures in the world. But comparing these three countries is a good starting point because they have such contrasting systems.

Click here to continue reading the full version of this Expert Comment on the Chatham House website.

Company: Chatham House

Visit website »