In western democracies, there is a progressive decline in the political freedom of citizens to influence the development of their society and, by extension, their personal lives. Our political systems seem less and less able to steer social change and to formulate solutions to pressing social and political problems. The endeavor to realize political ideals about the Good Life in the Good Society is considered by many as meaningless, a lost cause. In the same vein, citizens seem to be less and less able to identify with each other and to organize themselves on the basis of a substantial political program. As a result, political interest declines and political cynicism flourishes. This tendency is manifest in the rather vague complaints about “the cleavage” between politicians and citizens, “the end of politics,” and what the Germans duly call “Politikverdrossenheit.” These complaints, in turn, translate into lower voter turnout, dwindling membership of political parties, increasing difficulty in finding appropriate candidates for political and governmental positions, gradually growing groups of “floating voters” whose voting behavior seems to be mainly driven by the emotions and images of the day, and the popularity of populist politicians and movements, ranging from Pim Fortuyn and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Silvio Berlusconi in Italy to the Tea Party in the United States.