Prof. Joshua Nichols: On democracies and the crises of legitimacy

Joshua Nichols (Faculty of Law, University of Alberta) participated in the video series on The Futures of Democracies during the international conference “Democracy and Its Futures“, March 21-22, 2019. He accepted the invitation to respond to a bold question “What are the greatest challenges to democracy?”.

In the video interview, Nichols notes that there are some commonalities which extend from western European liberal democracies to North America and Oceania, where part of the problem is the “crisis of legitimacy”, as expressed by Jürgen Habermas.

According to Nichols, the long-lasting imbalance between the legitimating principle and the development of administrative power has gotten more pronounced with globalization as the process of government has started to be seen as “a process of management” and the legitimacy of institutions taken for granted. Thus, left/right populism essentially expresses the crisis of legitimacy, a way of contesting the established modes of how those are generated.

Within this framework, “the fact that indigenous political and legal systems were able to survive and strengthen themselves means that they have a lot to teach western liberal democracies about the practices of self-rule”, says Nichols.

This video is part of the MSEUCA project and was produced as part of the event “‘Public Debates in Turbulent Times: Academia and Media”, which took place on 19-20 March ,2019 in Victoria, BC. The young scholars Didier Zuniga (University of Montreal) and Stephen Gnanasihamany (University of Alberta) were co-leading the media session. MSEUCA stands for Communication and Media Strategies for EU experts in Canada. This project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Action of the European Union and the Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria.