Populism is everywhere these days. Not only as a phenomenon but also as a topic in political discourse. Yet, the closer you look at it, the more you will realize that populism is quite a messy term. It signifies everything from an unease towards dissent, to the fear of a weakened democracy. More importantly, once you get a grip on how you define the term you will realize that populism may be destructive and inflammatory but is not the real problem. It is mostly a symptom for fundamental conflicts in society.
Following up on the first European Thinking Lab Summit, which took place in Lisbon in November of last year, and only one month after the last #EuropeanTownHall meeting in London, the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE Contributors gathered again on 24-26 March in Paris for the Second Thinking Lab Summit, hosted by Das Progressive Zentrum in cooperation with our French partner EuropaNova.
During the second Thinking Lab Summit in Paris, Orange Magazine spoke with Elena García Mañes and Filipe Santos Henrique. They talked about their stances on Populism in Europe.
Currently, the future of the European Union is at stake due to many disintegrative developments: the Brexit-referendum, migration challenges, rising right-wing populism or the persisting economic crisis. The outcome of the Brexit-Referendum and the low turnout in their own age-group came as a wake-up call to many young Brits
Exactly one year after launching DIALOGUE ON EUROPE, a further bilateral half-day #TownHallMeeting was organized – this time in Warsaw. On December 7 th , representatives of academia, civil society and culture from Germany and Poland followed our invitation to discuss possible future scenarios for Europe. Open discussions fed directly into a live conversation about the challenges of European integration and Polish-German relations with Michael Roth, German Minister of State for Europe.
Currently, the future of the European Union is at stake due to many disintegrative developments: the Brexit-referendum, migration challenge, rising right-wing populism or the persisting economic crisis. Challenges ahead of us are too profound and seminal to be addressed by high-ranking politicians attending closed-door summits only. Sustainable solutions can best be achieved with the support of a strong and well-connected European civil society.
Recent change of government in Poland mobilised many people, the spectrum of civil engagement is however polarised: from defenders of liberal values and adherents of conservative agenda to followers of nationalist resentments.
Representatives of civil society and academics from Poland, Germany and other European countries joined a Polish-German seminar in Wroclaw on 20-21 October in search for answers to the question of what role civil society plays at the political scene in Europe today. It seems that nowadays the notion of Europe has been undermined by an economic crisis, followed by a humanitarian one, resulting from inability to handle of the influx of refugees in Europe. Fundamental European values are questioned. European political culture is currently in need of a new approach and civil engagement. It seems, however, that the notion of “civil society” needs redefinition per se to support European democracies. Radical and populist movements win popularity in many European countries, posing a threat to democratic order. Is the democratic order in danger? Is the pluralist political culture of Europe sustainable?
The DIALOGUE ON EUROPE can look back on more than six months of fruitful discussions throughout Europe. The international dialogue process with partners from France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain started with a successful kick-off meeting in June with the German Minister for Foreign Affairs in Berlin. Pursuing this debate, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier has today also initiated a series of Town Hall Meetings within Germany. In this spirit of concentrating our ideas and focus on Europe, we are happy to announce the launch of our new platform on which we will feature the ideas and the results of the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE process.
Hungary is commonly portrayed as one of the most Eurosceptic countries in the European Union. Paradoxically, however, the Hungarian public has by and large a positive image of the EU. How can this be explained? And how is the current refugee crisis affecting the EU-Hungarian relations?
Similarly to trends across Europe, populism and radical right-wing politics have become an inextricable part of the political landscape in Bulgaria. Yet, some characteristics render the Bulgarian case unique and highlight the rather different underpinnings compared to, on the surface, similar political phenomena in the East and the West.
On 28 June 2016 German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, together with the German Federal Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth, officially launched the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE-project at the Europasaal of the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.
In the context of our transnational, civil society project “Dialogue on Europe” we are happy to announce new partnerships with five renowned think tanks from our project countries. Our new think tank partners supported us in organising the #EuropeanTownHall Meetings and have been contributing to the Opening Conference in Berlin.
After successful Town Hall Meetings in Athens, Lisbon, Rome and Marseilles the fifth and last event within the Dialogue on Europe took place in Madrid, on 16 June 2016. Once again representatives from civil society, NGOs, local initiatives, startups, think tanks, the cultural sector and from the media gathered to discuss the most pressing challenges Spain and Europe are currently facing and exchanged ideas about how to work towards a strengthened and progressive Europe.
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After successful Town Hall Meetings in Athens, Lisbon and Rome the fourth event within the Dialogue on Europe took place in Marseilles, on 26 May 2016. Once again representatives from civil society, NGOs, local initiatives, startups, think tanks, the cultural sector and from the media gathered to discuss the most pressing challenges France and Europe are currently facing and exchange ideas about how to work towards a strengthened and progressive Europe.
The first stops of our Dialogue on Europe in Athens and Lisbon were now followed up by a Town Hall Meeting in Rome on 5 April 2016. Once again, we invited representatives from civil society, NGOs, local initiatives, startups, think tanks, the cultural sector and from the media to gather and discuss the most urgent challenges Italy and Europe have to face presently, such as the reduction of youth unemployment or the refugee crisis.
On March 7, our Dialogue on Europe made its second stop in Lisbon, Portugal. Now, the Politico wrote about Michael Roth‘s “discreet and unconventional tour (…) to connect directly with citizens”.
After its successful start in Athens, the “Dialogue on Europe” made its second stop in Lisbon, where the second #EuropeanTownHall Meeting took place on 7 March 2016.
In the context of the current refugee crisis the relationship between the Eastern and Western EU member states has become strained. In her contribution, Maria Skóra analyzes Central and Eastern European reactions to the refugee crisis. As conservative nationalism spiced with right-wing populism is on the rise in Central-Eastern Europe, the prospects for coordinated European immigration policies look very grim, indeed.
The recent Polish and French elections are especially topical and worrying reminders of the current rise of right-wing populist parties all over Europe. To debate this urgent European problem, Das Progressive Zentrum, with support of the German Federal Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, organised an international roundtable, which took place on December 16, 2015 in Berlin.