Democracy under siege from autocrats, social networks and their own failures

But China has made it clear that it sees the United States and its democracy in terminal decline, while at home it has been careful to control or censor what some see as the crucial drivers of that decline, especially social media and the Internet.

The digitization of the political space and the confusion between truth and lies have undermined democracy, said Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty.

“The digital revolution has not only changed the organization of our nations and societies, but also our brains,” he said in an interview. “There can be no democracy without common ground for debate. And what is the result of a political debate? A majority of people gathered around shared truths, shared observations, and shared diagnoses. But in the age of the digital revolution, there is no such thing.”

Social media is “a different mental universe” and “doesn’t have a single truth,” but “at the heart of democracy is the distinction between truth and lies,” he said. “It is the key political question today, because our liberal democracies are deeply undermined by this digital revolution and by the individualization of society.”

Bernard Spitz, lawyer and adviser to Medef, the largest employers’ organization in France, agreed that globalization and digitization have altered democratic societies, “and like all revolutions, they can bring the best and the worst”, including doubts about democracy and stability. more visible extremism and “democratic disillusionment”.

But associated with the new digital world of social media, another challenge to democracy is emerging, and it is generational. Young people care more about climate change, which they see as existential, and less about liberal democracy, Le Maire said. “For the younger generation, the climate is the main issue: their political consciousness is focused on climate change.”

Democracy is hard work and “must be fostered every day,” said Ms. González, a former Spanish foreign minister.

Riotta said that the real danger now is not fascism.

“The real danger,” he said, “is democracy fatigue.”