Debate on democracy – from Cairo to Denmark

Press releases 2011

What does the future hold for deliberative democracy?

Open international seminar on democratisation and Danish debate on signs of crisis regarding deliberative democracy. This May, Aarhus University is opening its doors to its fourth MatchPoints Seminar, with a programme full of distinguished democracy experts and prominent social debaters from Denmark and abroad. Enrolment is now open – see the entire programme at www.matchpoints.au.dk.


The streets of Cairo are currently echoing the demands for democracy. An unexpected wave of democratisation has swept across the Arab world. But what exactly are the democratic values that bring about the downfall of autocrats just when the experts had begun to believe that the democratisation of the world’s states since the fall of the Wall had come to a halt?

Are these in fact values that need to be re-evaluated here in Denmark? International surveys place Danish democracy right at the top globally. However, in recent years, we have begun debating whether our democracy is in a state of crisis. Experts use expressions such as ‘emotive democracy’ and ‘post-democracy’ to describe the way deliberative democracy has developed here.

This year, we have assembled strong Danish and international forces at Aarhus University to discuss democracy and democratisation at the seminar entitled Challenging and renewing democracy as we know it to be held on 12–14 May. We will check the pulse of deliberative democracy in Denmark. We will hear about experiences of major voter involvement in Canada and the USA. We will discuss democratisation in Europe. And in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, we will focus on democratisation in so-called fragile states – as is now happening in North Africa.

The seminar is open to the public. We combine public information with research, theory and practice. Just as in previous years, the MatchPoints Seminar will thus be a meeting point for experts, politicians and citizens, all of whom attend to learn or perhaps take part in the debates.

MatchPoints is organised this year in collaboration with the Danish University Extension in Aarhus (Folkeuniversitetet), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Danish Institute for International Studies, the University of Oslo, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the U.S. Department of State and the Danish newspaper Politiken.

In addition to prominent social debaters and leading Danish democracy experts such as Georg Sørensen, Jørgen Elklit and Jørgen Møller, a considerable number of major international names will be attending MatchPoints. The most prominent of these are:

  • Professor Francis Fukuyama (Stanford University/Aarhus University)
  • Fareed Zakaria (CNN host, Editor-at-Large of TIME and bestseller author)
  • Professor James Fishkin (Stanford University)
  • Professor Jane Mansbridge (Harvard University)
  • Professor Robert Rotberg (Harvard University)
  • Professor Mark Warren (University of British Columbia)

The debate on Danish democracy will be held in Danish, and the remainder in English. For more information and tickets, go to www.matchpoints.au.dk. You can enrol for the entire programme (including meals) or parts of it.