Democratic decline in the U.S. and Europe is weakening the transatlantic relationship and undermining its influence around the world. America and its European allies need to recalibrate their values and practicies at home in order to serve as beacons to aspiring democracies abroad. But disruptions to our democratic traditions keep emerging: from new technologies changing the way we communicate and work to pandemics and economic shocks. Our work analyzes how these disruptions are playing out, and it will be up to civil society, lawmakers, and the people to prepare our democracies for the future.

How to Fix Democracy |

How to Fix Democracy

Since its origins, democracy has been a work in progress. today, many question its resilience. The Bertelsmann Foundation and Humanity in Action have teamed up with Andrew Keen, author of How to Fix the Future, to launch this video and podcast series exploring practical responses to the threats facing democracies around the world.

Disrupting Democracy Vol. II

In 2018, for our second instalment of the Disrupting Democracy project we turned our attention to elections. From the rise of Five Star and Lega in Italy to U.S. Democrats’ success winning the U.S. House of Representatives, and from to Morena and Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s victory in Mexico to a cultural and linguistic divide in Latvia, Disrupting Democracy Vol. II: Election Series recorded how technology was put to work to make a difference at the ballot box.

Disrupting Democracy Vol. II |

Disrupting Democracy Vol. I

Beginning January 2017, the Bertelsmann Foundation embarked on a journey to explore how digital innovation impacts democracies and societies around the world in a series called "Disrupting Democracy." In volume one, we focused on key challenges that have emerged as a result of technological disruption from the rival capitals of Washington and Havana, the bustling streets of New Delhi, the dynamic tech startups in Tel Aviv, and the efficient order of Berlin.

Disrupting Democracy Vol. I |


Cyber Democracy

Regulating the 21st Century Internet

As the debate regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act highlights, tech platforms, left to their own devices, are in many ways helping to codify what is increasingly an internet bifurcated by political and philosophical beliefs: you’re either in the “Dorsey” or “Zuckerberg” camp.

Germany’s Basic Law

Remote Control

Legislating in an Empty Chamber

The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the habits of ordinary citizens the world over. We don masks and gloves in supermarkets, and follow one-way arrows up and down the aisles in search of that elusive box of pasta. We interact with pixelated versions of our families, friends and colleagues on 14-inch monitors. And we are still workshopping the least awkward alternatives to a handshake. But as we adapt to this “new normal”, the US House of Representatives struggles with finding its own procedures that strike the right balance between preserving tradition and responding to the challenges of a global health crisis. Fortunately, the House need not start from scratch. The European Parliament has already set a path for Washington to follow.

How the U.S. Presidential Election Works

Third Parties Won’t Win the White House

But They Could Decide the Election

Given the polarized state of American politics, it can be easy to assume that Americans have a binary decision to make this November. They do not.

Common Enemies

Coalition Building in America’s Major Political Parties

In countries with parliamentary systems, like Germany, consensus is built after the election. Parties work together to form coalition governments and craft platforms that represent their values. In the United States, the elections themselves are consensus building exercises, as the parties undergo a less formal – and far messier – process of carving out platforms that attempt to appeal to broad swaths of their base, while not alienating others.

The Troubles with Brexit

Building Resilient Democracy in the 21st Century

Six Steps

Recommendations for Building Resilient Democracy in the 21st Century

In April 2019, the Bertelsmann Foundation convened two dozen international leaders from the fields of business, politics, nonprofits, and the arts for the Washington Symposium, which asked how to make democracy resilient enough to face the challenges of the 21st century.