David Runciman (UK) and Rune Lykkeberg

Wednesday 10 October 2018 at 20:00 The Queen's Hall
Rune Lykkeberg and David Runciman (right). Photo: Jakob Dall and Mark Turner
Rune Lykkeberg and David Runciman (right). Photo: Jakob Dall and Mark Turner




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According to the British professor David Runciman, traditional democracies are unable to deal with such challenges as climate change, the way in which the global economy is connected, automation and artificial intelligence. In addition a de-democratisation process is taking place in the form of technological developments that we originally had expected to liberate us:

‘One half of our democracy will be undemocratic, and things will be decided by experts, engineers and people who control the system. The other half, where people meet, discuss and are linked up, will perhaps become more democratic. But the control of the financial systems, the Internet and global commerce will not be democratic concerns.’

Companies like Google, Facebook and Apple represent a threat to democracies, since they control a great deal of the information that citizens are dependent on. This does not necessarily mean that they are evil, but they have a power that is incompatible with classic democracy.

All these challenges mean that Western democracies are facing a highly uncertain future, and Runciman attempts in his new book How Democracy Ends to suggest what the decline of democracy will look like in the 21st century. And, in particular, if something better may possibly succeed it.


On stage in Dronningesalen, David Runciman will converse with Rune Lykkeberg, who has studied philosophy and comparative literary history at the University of Copenhagen. He is a former cultural editor at daily paper Politiken, and since 2016 he has been head editor at daily paper Information.

David Runciman is a professor of politics and head of the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University. He has published a number of books on politics and democracy, most recently The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War 1 to the Present.