The majority of citizens dissatisfied with politicians
At the 17th Trilogue Salzburg, renowned personalities from politics, business and arts discussed the competitiveness of liberal democracy in a globalized world. According to a recent poll the majority of citizens in Germany and Austria does not feel represented adequately by their elected politicians.
Western democracies increasingly come under pressure by autocratic systems such as Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, South Africa, Iran or Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this year’s Trilogue Salzburg that we hosted was dedicated to the topic "Reviving Democracy in a Fragmented World – Not Attractive Anymore or Still a Success Story?" Thriving populism on the left and the right of the political spectrum in Europe and the U.S. indicates that democracy is threatened from within the democratic system – via elections, via changes to the constitution, or via the party system.
The participants tackled the question whether politicians actually take into account citizens' needs and concerns. In preparation of the Trilogue Salzburg, we commissioned a poll conducted by Kantar Emnid in Germany and Austria. The findings show that a majority of citizens in both countries are satisfied with the work of their respective democratic institutions – on the other hand, four in ten are unhappy with them.
Furthermore, citizens consider the work of their political representatives unsatisfactory: only 40 per cent of Austrians and 32 per cent of Germans feel well represented by their elected politicians. Obviously, politicians do not take into account citizens' needs and expectations sufficiently. The current issues on the political agenda are not close to the hearts of the people.
Liz Mohn, host of the Trilogue Salzburg and our vice-chairwoman, pointed out: "Democracy needs to evolve and to become more diverse, thus more adjusted to future developments."
At the conference, Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen, stressed: "Democracy needs to shape globalization; we should not return to national solutions."
31 personalities from 16 countries participated in this year's Trilogue Salzburg. After two rounds of discussion, they concluded that democracy and its basic principles need to be reconsidered. Economic success and prosperity are not the only traits of democracy. History might offer valuable lessons to develop new strategies. Politics, business and arts have to join forces in order to actively address the current challenges for democracy.
The Trilogue Salzburg took place for the 17th time. Renowned personalities from all over the world meet in order to discuss vital questions with regard to our future. The Trilogue convenes representatives from business, politics and arts who share their perspectives. Over the years, the Salzburg Trilogue has gained recognition as a extraordinary dialogue forum.