Understanding Democracy: Historical and Comparative Benchmarks

Thursday, Oct 13, 2022

1:30pm - 3:00pm

Lecture by:
Dr. Jorg Broschek

What is democracy? In his famous Gettysburg Address delivered in 1863, US President Abraham Lincoln identified key dimensions of democratic governance as government of, by and for the people. Building on this basic working definition of democracy, this lecture will explore different models and concepts of democracy. Using illustrative examples, the lecture provides a historical and comparative introduction into the varieties of democracy. It addresses structural tensions inherent to democracy (e.g. between majority rule and minority rights), different social foundations (e.g. “mono-” versus “multi-national” democracies) and organizing principles (e.g. “consensus” versus “majoritarian” democracy). These benchmarks will serve as the basis for putting Canadian democracy into perspective: A multi-national federal democracy in the “Westminster” tradition that has proven to be remarkably resilient since its formal establishment in 1867. Based on this review, the lecture will conclude with a short discussion about the prospects of Canadian democracy in light of contemporary challenges.

About The Lecturer

Dr. Jorg Broschek

Jörg Broschek is Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance and Associate Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University. He received his PhD from the University of Augsburg in Germany. Before joining Wilfrid Laurier University, he held positions at the University of Augsburg, the University of Hagen and the Technical University Darmstadt, all in Germany. His research focuses on politics and policy in federal systems in North America, Europe and Australia. He is a Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) as the Secretary-Treasurer.