About us

By now, the common wisdom that never in human history have so many countries been governed by democratically-elected leaders has been replaced by the widespread suspicion that democracy is in crisis. Recent developments suggest that democracies of all ages are facing serious challenges. In response to a widespread suspicion that the quality of democracy in recently re(emerged) and established democracies is increasingly low, the Center for the Study of Imperfections in Democracy (DISC), a research center at Central European University, was established in 2007 to develop and encourage research that reaches across traditional academic and geographic boundaries that exist in the study of democracy by connecting researchers from distinct world regions and from various fields and perspectives.

The present challenges and changes give rise to serious concerns about political accountability and democratic performance that signal an imperative and critical need for learning more about the present and future state of democracy. While clearly even the most advanced democracies are pale imitations of the democratic ideal, in order to analyze the state of democracy or prescribe policies for improving the state of democracy, there must be a clear understanding of the qualities of democracy. It is no longer sufficient to define a high-quality democracy through a description of the established democracies. Given these circumstances, a thorough (re-) evaluation of the qualities of democracy is vital for the future of democracy research. DISC aims to advance the state of research and teaching on democracy to address the challenges faced in present-day democracies through research projects, educational programs,lecture series, and conferences.