Constanze Stelzenmüller

Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution

Facing the Future: The West in a World of Great-Power Competition

About the Topic

In his annual Christmas address, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier cautioned, "We need democracy – but right now democracy needs us.” His message comes at a time when global dissatisfaction with democracy has increased significantly, according to the Pew Research Center. In 20 of the 27 countries surveyed, half or more of respondents said that the statement “elected officials care what ordinary people think” does not describe their country well. While lagging economies often contribute to this discontent, Pew reports that the U.S. is the only country where dissatisfaction with democracy has increased at the same time that people think the economy is improving. From the U.S. to Europe, have liberal democracies of the post-World War II era run their course? If democratic values are ebbing, what replaces them? Undercut by rising voter dissension, how do democracies perform in a world where China and Russia are increasingly allied?

About the Speaker

Constanze Stelzenmüller is a senior fellow at the Brookings Center on the United States and Europe. Her expertise includes the EU’s foreign, security and defense policy; transatlantic relations; NATO; international law; and human rights. Among the most popular pieces on the Brookings website last year was her German Lessons - Thirty Years After the End of History: Elements of an Education, marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Stelzenmüller also writes a column for the Financial Times and as a self-described "Germany explainer" tweets on foreign and security policy (@ConStelz).