Trump and Democracy (TruLies Blog by Wolfgang Merkel)

"Donald Trump" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Democ­ratic elections have reached a historic low with the US-American 2016 campaign. But does this mean that we are in a post-democ­ratic age where they have lost all meaning and have become an empty ritual? Prof. Wolfgang Merkel argues that this is only half the truth. While this year’s campaigns were more about accusa­tions and defama­tions than political content, there are clear program­matic differ­ences between the Clinton and Trump election programs. Differ­ences we will have to deal with, now that Donald Trump won the election and the Repub­licans have the majority in both Senate and House of Repre­sen­ta­tives. Merkel criti­cizes the majority voting and Electoral College system, which made this victory possible in the first place. Never­theless, even repre­sen­tative Democ­racies are in danger of no longer repre­senting all of society but lecturing conde­scend­ingly and thereby playing into the hands of right wing populist movements.

This contri­bution was first published on 10/11/2016 in the Online Journal Inter­na­tionale Politik und Gesellschaft (IPG-Journal). Professor Wolfgang Merkel is Director of the Democracy and Democ­ra­ti­zation Department at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and a member of the Das Progressive Zentrum Advisory Board.

The project “TruLies – The Truth about Lies on Europe”, aided by the Stiftung Mercator and run by the Institute for European Politics (IEP) in cooper­ation with Das Progressive Zentrum, has two principal objec­tives. On the one hand, it strives to decon­struct Eurosceptic and populist preju­dices, animosities, and false asser­tions, by means of social scien­tif­i­cally-grounded analysis. Thus, it aims to contribute to a ratio­nal­i­sation of the public discourse and debate in Germany (and beyond). On the other hand, “TruLies Europe” endeavours to publicly commu­nicate its findings beyond the select circle of scholars to political actors, civil society, and the wider public. You may find further infor­mation on our website:

Wolfgang Merkel’s contri­bution can be found here.