Is Democracy Dying w/ David Goodhart and Nabila Ramdani

24 Apr 2024 – 18:00 BST
Selwyn College
Quarry Whitehouse Auditorium
Grange Road

The second Vice-Chancellor’s Dialogues event grapples with the question: ‘Is liberal democracy dying?’ The evening will be hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Prentice and chaired by the Master of Selwyn College.

2024 is the year of elections. A record number of elections will take place, with half the adult population of the world, some two billion people, having the chance to vote. Is this a milestone to be celebrated in our democratic history or are we at a crossroads where the fate of liberal democracy hangs in the balance?

Against a backdrop of polarising populist movements, the erosion of trust in traditional institutions and a decline of democratic norms, we ask: is democracy dying? Is the election of populists an expression of democracy or a breakdown of democracy? How resilient are our democratic institutions in the face of unprecedented challenges? Is the tension between liberal and democracy ultimately too great to resolve?

Join Selwyn College on 24th April to grapple with these questions in our second Vice-Chancellor’s Dialogues, hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Prentice.

About the speakers

David Goodhart, founding editor of Prospect magazine and Head of the Demography, Immigration and Integration unit at the think tank Policy Exchange. He is the author of The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics.

Nabila Ramdani, award-winning journalist, broadcaster and academic. She is the author of Fixing France: How to Repair a Broken Republic.

Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Cambridge. She is a regular panellist on ‘Talking Politics’ and a columnist for the New Statesman.

The discussion will be chaired by Roger Mosey, Master of Selwyn College and former Editorial Director of the BBC. The event is public and open to all, but attendees must register on Eventbrite.

About the books

The Road to Somewhere

Several decades of greater economic and cultural openness in the West have not benefited all our citizens. Among those who have been left behind, a populist politics of culture and identity has successfully challenged the traditional politics of Left and Right, creating a new division: between the mobile ‘achieved’ identity of the people from Anywhere, and the marginalised, roots-based identity of the people from Somewhere. This schism accounts for the Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump, the decline of the centre-left, and the rise of populism across Europe.


David Goodhart’s compelling investigation of the new global politics reveals how the Somewhere backlash is a democratic response to the dominance of Anywhere interests, in everything from mass higher education to mass immigration.

Fixing France

France—the romanticised, revolutionary land of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for all—is failing. Reform is urgently needed. This book is a powerful indictment of the status quo, and a highly original perspective on the challenges to which the nation must rise.

Nabila Ramdani is not from the establishment elite: she is a marginalised insider, born and raised in a neglected Paris suburb. With unflinching clarity, she probes the fault lines of her struggling country, exposing the Fifth Republic as an archaic system which emerged from Algeria’s cataclysmic War of Independence.

Fixing France cover

Today, a monarchical President Macron shows little interest in democracy, while a far-right party founded by Nazi collaborators threatens to replace him. Segregation, institutionalised rioting, economic injustice, the debasement of women, a monolithic education system, deep-seated racial and religious discrimination, paramilitary policing, terrorism and extremism, and a duplicitous foreign policy all fuel the growing crisis.

Yet Ramdani offers real hope: the broken French Republic can, and must, be fixed.



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