Representative politics is in crisis. Trust in politicians is at an all-time low. Fewer people are voting or joining political parties, and our interest in parliamentary politics is declining fast. Even oppositional and radical parties that should be benefitting from public disenchantment with politics are suffering.
But different forms of political activity are emerging to replace representative politics: instant politics, direct action, insurgent politics. We are leaving behind traditional representation, and moving towards a politics without representatives. In this provocative new book, Simon Tormey explores the changes that are underway, drawing on a rich range of examples from the Arab Spring to the Indignados uprising in Spain, street protests in Brazil and Turkey to the emergence of new initiatives such as Anonymous and Occupy.
Tormey argues that the easy assumptions that informed our thinking about the nature and role of parties, and ‘party based democracy’ have to be rethought. We are entering a period of fast politics, evanescent politics, a politics of the street, of the squares, of micro-parties, pop-up parties, and demonstrations. This may well be the end of representative politics as we know it, but an exciting new era of political engagement is just beginning.