Book Review by Florian Eder, Brussels Playbook, Politico Europe

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By FLORIAN EDER 22.4.2019

A DIFFERENT VIEW: Niklaus Nuspliger, the EU correspondent for Swizerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, takes a look at the state of Europe through a wider lens. And what he sees isn’t pretty. His new book, “Europa zwischen Populisten-Diktatur und Bürokratenherrschaft” (“Europe, in between populist dictatorship and bureaucratic rule”), which hits bookstores in German tomorrow, describes the crisis of liberal democracies. It draws on his travels around the Continent — he reports from Budapest, Amsterdam, a tennis court in southern France, a “dusty bench on rondpoint Schuman” — and combines a Swiss sense of distance from the EU’s internal workings with his own sharp analysis on the success of illiberal politics. Refreshingly, the book doesn’t stop there.

How to engage with voters: The book’s most inspiring sections mull the question of how democracies can defend themselves from being taken over by a reckless majority and discuss the pros and cons of various forms of citizens’ participation, including direct democracy and Rousseau, the Italian 5Star Movement’s online democracy tool. He also goes on a fascinating tangent on how the Swiss manage to turn even the most radical referenda results into pragmatic policies.

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