Democracy’s Disparities: How Social Divisions Dictate Voter Turnout in Germany and the U.S.
Liberal democracies have made themselves vulnerable to attack on both sides of the Atlantic: for far too long, they have underestimated the democratic challenges posed by deep social divides in voter turnout. High and increasing rates of abstention are a problem and a risk for democracies, because they are almost always the result and an indicator of a widening social divide. Gaps in representation along social lines have made liberal democracies less inclusive, and certain classes have, in turn, become particularly vulnerable to online disinformation campaigns and populist movements. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cyber threats, and information manipulation all add to the factors complicating electoral processes and democratic engagement.
As Germany approaches a pivotal federal election on September 26 with the departure of long-time Chancellor Angela Merkel and Americans prepare for midterm elections nearly a year away, questions arise over how both countries’ electorates are engaging with the democratic process and what lessons have been learned in the past to improve voter participation. To answer these questions, this webinar will bring together German and American experts to discuss the impacts of social divides on voting behavior and diagnoses for future voter engagement.
Director, Future of Democracy Program
Executive Director and Founder
Center for Election Innovation & Research
Manager, Transatlantic Relations
Bertelsmann Foundation, Washington DC