Events | The End of Crises? Political Reflections after the German Election

Los Angeles | October 8, 2021

Panel Discussion with Karen Alter, Simone Chambers, Rainer Forst, Christoph Möllers and Michael Zürn. Moderated by Alexandra Lieben.

The recent German elections on September 26 marked not only the end of Chancellor Angela Merkel's era, but also a political moment of truth after four extremely turbulent years. The focus of the debates is on the climate crisis, the catastrophic effects of which are becoming increasingly tangible in Germany as well, the ongoing fight against the Corona pandemic, and threats to the Western alliance of values.

While a majority in Germany generally supports climate protection and measures to contain the pandemic, the massive disputes over protection against infection also highlight the polarization of the political public. Controversies over freedom of travel and the fair distribution of vaccines demonstrate that the pandemic is not only a crisis for German democracy, but also for the European and transatlantic alliance.

To what extent can the recent federal elections be a turning point for the management of these political crises? What are the prospects for restoring public trust and strengthening political participation? What foreign policy measures would be necessary to stop the regression of the democratic West? The event is moderated by Alexandra Lieben.


Karen Alter is the Norman Dwight Harris Professor of International Relations and Professor of Political Science and Law at Northwestern University, a permanent visiting professor at the iCourts Center for Excellence, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law, and the co-director Research Group on Global Capitalism and Law at Northwestern University. Alter’s research focuses on the construction of global economic rules, the determinants of politically sustainable capitalism, and backlash politics.

Simone Chambers is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Irvine. She has written and published on such topics as deliberative democracy, public reason, the public sphere, secularism, rhetoric, civility and the work of Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls. She works with the group Participedia gathering data on deliberative and participatory initiatives around the world.

Rainer Forst is Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy and Director of the Research Center “Normative Orders” at Goethe University Frankfurt. His research focuses on questions of justice, democracy and toleration as well as critical theory and practical reason. In 2012 he was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation. Forst ist a 2021 Thomas Mann Fellow.

Alexandra Lieben is the Deputy Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations – and lecturer at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. She has served as faculty advisory on several social impact projects at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and teaches crisis de-escalation, conflict resolution, and cultural competency to UCLA students and professionals in the public and the private sector. She is a member of the Thomas Mann House Advisory Board.

Christoph Möllers is a Professor of Public Law and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Law, Humboldt-University Berlin and a Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study Berlin. His main research interests include German, European and comparative constitutional law, regulated industries, democratic theory in public law and the theory of normativity. In 2016 he was awarded the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Prize. Möllers is a 2021 Thomas Mann Fellow.

Michael Zürn is Director of the research unit Global Governance at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and Professor of International Relations at the Free University Berlin. His research particularly focuses on the emergence and functioning of international and supranational institutions and their effects on the global political order. Zürn is a 2021 Thomas Mann Fellow.


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