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Creating the People as ‘One’?

On Democracy and Its Other

Marta Nunes da Costa

Keywords: crisis; democracy; popular sovereignty; populism; refugees; representation

It is common sense today to say that ‘democracy is in crisis’. This apparently obvious crisis of democracy has several aspects: it is a crisis of its representative dimensions; it is a crisis that exposes the tensions and intrinsic contradictions between the political and the economic and financial orders; but it is also a crisis that begins to question the actual future of democracy, announcing the possibility that democracy may be replaced by something else for which we don’t have a name yet. In this article I start by looking at the modern (re) invention of democracy, trying to grasp the ways in which ‘the people’ has been theorised. After, I look at the challenges Europe is facing today, mainly in what concerns the economic and financial crises on the one hand, and the refugees and humanitarian crises on the other. I conclude by showing how and why democracy can only be defined as ‘crisis’ and why ‘the people’ must remain simultaneously invisible and un-bodied, in order to fight current populist threats.

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