Keywords: Dahrendorf - democracy - liberalism - rule of law - authoritarianism
The essay deals with Ralf Dahrendorf's reflections on the crisis of contemporary democracy. After describing his proceduralist, realist and elitist conception of democracy, the article takes into consideration Dahrendorf's analysis of political, social and economic transformations that are entailing «serious and deep troubles» for the functioning of democracy. Traditional democratic institutions based on the nation-state have lost their political relevance. According to Dahrendorf's liberal point of view, western democracies are now facing authoritarian risks especially because of the lack of strong checks and balances and citizens' apathy. The essay ends with the illustration of the remedies Dahrendorf considers as necessary to restore people's control over political power. They are an active civil society, experts' committees substituting parliaments to unravel ethical and scientific issues and the judicial review of administrative acts and primary legislation.