What has happened to the great democratic revolution? John Keane sifts through the general confusion surrounding democracy and puts forward a personal view of what it could be and what can be done to build on its historic achievements.

Just over a decade ago, talk of the global triumph of democracy beamed around the world. Now, democracies everywhere are feeling the pinch.

Enthusiasm is waning for politicians, parties and representative government. There are new forms of public grumbling and rising tides of anti-democratic behaviour, from states and individuals. All these reveal a general confusion about what democracy is, what it could be, and what can be done to build on its achievements.