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The Crisis of Democratic Legitimation and Politics of Identity

Gayil Talshir
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Gayil Talshir
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Open Panel

Abstract

Democracy was once inconceivable save in terms of party democracy. Yet, It has been extensively argued – both by political comparativists and social theoreticians – that in an age of dealignment, civil society is a key for the future of democracy. I examine the interrelations between civil society and the party system in Europe taking identity politics as a case in point. First, offering an alternative analysis of the crisis of legitimation of late modernity to that of Weber and Habermas. I argue that ‘enchantment’ is an immanent part of human society. It does not disappear; it merely transposes itself to other realms of the polity. The crisis of nation-state is double-edged, challenging both ‘nation’ and ‘state’ and viewed as the crisis of identity. Second, I take Marshal''s model of democracy based on civil, political and social rights and examine the different options of extending his theory into the 21st century, given the rise of identity politics. Third, thesis of de/realignment is analyzed, looking at identity parties in Europe, seeking to unfreeze the freezing hypothesis of Lipset and Rokkan based on the analysis of a new cleavage line in which identity politics plays a crucial role. Finally, the question of identity politics is juxtaposed to the Left/Right continuum arguing for the taming effect of the party system and an interactive model of democracy based on the interrelationship between representative democracy and civil society.