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2.16 Democracy and capitalism with Professors Morlino, Merkel, Fung and Associate Professor Näsström

Welcome to episode 16 of Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. In this episode, I talk to a few of my previous guests about the relationship between representative democracy and capitalism. Some common themes emerge, specifically around the power of capital challenging the power of democratically elected governments and the problem of growing inequality and the erosion of the welfare state and social democracy.

My first guest is Professor Wolfgang Merkel who spoke about his paper Is Capitalism compatible with Democracy?

Professor Merkel is the Director of the Research Unit: Democracy and Democratization at the WZB Social Science Research Centre Berlin, as well as heading up the Centre for Global Constitutionalism and a number of other projects. He has written widely on democracy, democratisation, social democracy and democracy & capitalism to name but a few in academic and non-academic publications. Professor Merkel is a co-project leader of the Democracy Barometer.

Next, I spoke with Professor Leonardo Morlino who suggests that whilst we can legitimately talk about alternate systems to democracy asking about alternatives to capitalism is a rhetorical question.

Professor Morlino is a professor of political science and director of the Research Center on Democracies and Democratizations at LUISS, Rome. Prof. Morlino is a leading specialist in comparative politics with expertise on Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and the phenomenon of democratization.

My third guest is Associate Professor Sofia Näsström who spoke about a paper she wrote with Sara Kalm from Lund University, titled A democratic critique of precarity in which they identify precarity as ‘as the material and psychological vulnerability resulting from neo-liberal economic reforms.’

Associate Professor Näsström is from the Department of Government, Uppsala University in Sweden. She works in the field of political theory, with a particular focus on issues related to democracy, constituent power, the people, the right to have rights, representation, freedom and precarity.

And finally, I spoke with Professor Archon Fung about the relationship between representative democracy and free-market capitalism, and also about his work around workplace democracy. I hope to look at workplace democracy in more detail in a later season of the podcast.

Professor Fung is the Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His research explores policies, practices, and institutional designs that deepen the quality of democratic governance. He focuses on public participation, deliberation, and transparency. He co-directs the Transparency Policy Project and leads democratic governance programs of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School.

In the next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I’ll be talking with Dr Simon Longstaff the Executive Director of the Ethics Centre here in Australia about ethics and democracy. He touches on democracy and capitalism too. I hope you’ll join me then.

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