This session was organized in partnership with the Brookings Institution (USA). It aimed to discuss why the democratic ideal seems to have been eroded by the recent wave of populist movements. The session took place on October 3rd, 2019 in Warsaw.

The participating panelists were: Mr. David Kramer – Senior Fellow at the Havel Program on Human Rights and Director of European and Eurasian Studies at Florida International University; Mr. Laurent Pech – Professor and Head of the Law and Politics Department at Middlesex University of London; and Mr. Mosharraf Zaidi – Chief Executive Officer at Tabadlab. The session was moderated by Ms. Alina Polyakova – Director of the Project on Global Democracy and Emerging Technology, and Foreign Policy Fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.

Mosharraf Zaidi started the debate by disputing the idea that populism is a phenomenon unique to the right wing, stating that it exists without political affiliation. He argued that its rise in recent years could be explained by new technologies, which have driven an unprecedented increase in access to information and culture. Some of those technologies use algorithms to generate clicks and reactions, and, as a result, the most brutal and shocking content becomes the most visible.

David Kremer was more optimistic and focused on the positive uses of technology, for example, by protestors all over the world, including demonstrators in Hong-Kong. He sought an explanation for the slow decline of democracies around the world. According to him, democracies must, first and foremost, deliver.

Mr. Laurent Pech focused his analysis on the European Union perspective and on the democratic backsliding of some European countries, notably Hungary and Poland.