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Disenchanted democracies

Citizens in rich democracies are becoming both more sceptical towards government and more demanding of it, leading to a "crisis of disengagement." This won't be reversed by institutional reform—better to focus on the democracy of everyday life

By Paul Skidmore   February 2008

When Gordon Brown, in one of his first acts as prime minister, issued his green paper “The Governance of Britain,” he was in part responding to the view, commonplace in the political class, that there is a “crisis of disengagement” from politics.

What is less commonly acknowledged is that this disengagement is close to being a general phenomenon across “mature” and even not so mature democracies. While British commentators sounded the alarm when voter turnout dipped below 60 per cent in the 2001 general election, few noticed that this was part of a wider trend. Historic postwar lows in electoral…

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