While democracy’s core values are widely popular, many liberal-democratic systems find themselves under immense pressure: Democratic processes are being misused to enforce autocratic political regimes in many of Germany´s partner countries, simultaneously explicitly populist movements have been gaining vast momentum all over Europe. Additionally, basic trust into democratic institutions and their representatives seems to be crumbling in many places.
Within the framework of our democratic governmental system, political parties, nongovernmental organisations, as well as societal initiatives will play a central mediating role between the state and the public in the future. For political parties to stay attractive and be able to continuously shape the political system, they have to adjust to changing framework conditions and find new ways of codetermination for their followers. Furthermore, new concepts are necessary to guarantee participation of all members and followers in the political process. Besides these different types of societal engagement, changes in institutional arrangements also play a central role. Strengthening parliaments, ministries and administrations as a representative democracy’s core institutions, as well as discussing their alterability, will be crucial. Only in this manner can diverse societal interests be permanently and fairly balanced and populism countered.
The Democracy Lab, a project launched in April 2017 within “Das Progressive Zentrum”, presents its first Discussion Paper. It focuses on the reasons why we need better democratic institutions, more flexible and agile processes, and new mental models to adapt our democratic system to the current challenges of the 21st century. The paper essentially calls for a debate on the architecture of liberal democracy.
The populist surge seems inextricably linked to the logic, workings, and structural transformation of the public sphere. Hence, in order to understand and counter the current fundamental attacks on our liberal democracies and pluralist-democratic values, we need to address a number of crucial questions in this regard. For example, how does the transformation and diversification of the media affect populism as well as feasible responses? And how should political and media actors deal with populists without either playing into the narrative of the “ignored outsider” or giving them more attention than warranted by their political successes?
Terra Nova (France), Volta (Italy), and Das Progressive Zentrum (Germany) present strategic answers to the crucial question of how progressives and democrats across Europe should counter populism.
On April 27th we celebrated the opening of the Democracy Lab. In the offices of Das Progressive Zentrum, circa 50 guests from the fields of politics, civil society and the media discussed what the future of democracy should be like.
The unexpected happened and we are still searching for an answer why it happened and what might be the adequate response. This essay attempts to look for the reasons of the current success of populists on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and to face the challenge that is produced by this convergence.
Against the grave background of the populist surge and rising disenchantment with democratic politics, Das Progressive Zentrum launched the project Countering Populism and Political Disaffection. The first roundtable (of a total of three) took place on Wednesday, December 7, 2016.
On Thursday, November 17, 6.30-8.30 pm, Das Progressive Zentrum in cooperation with the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) from Washington D.C. and Heinrich Boell Stiftung hosted a roundtable analyzing the outcome of the U.S. election, discussing electoral shifts and drawing consequences for elections in Europe next year especially in terms of strategies against populism.
Brendan Simms in the New Statesman Magazine about possible trajectories of the European Union after the Brexit.
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?
Italy has a long history of populist parties. However, with the 5 Stars Movement a new, somewhat peculiar actor entered the scene. What form does its populism take, particularly in relation to the Northern League? And how does Italian populism compare to the recent rise of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany?
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.
How can a successful party of the future look like? Guillaume Liegey presents his ideas, that are workable within the existing party infrastructure and can provide a powerful source for inspiration for existing and future members as well as they can all be implemented in a reasonable amount of time.
Paul Nolte argues that the United States and Europe are, for the first time in a long while, witnessing a strikingly similar political phenomenon of grave importance, namely populism as the “movement of the disaffected”. His analysis was presented at the roundtable “US 2016 Presidential Elections: Insights from the Campaign and Consequences for Europe”, which was jointly organised by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and Das Progressive Zentrum, and which took place on Friday, July 1, 2016.
The state parliamentary elections in Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Saxony-Anhalt have well and truly shaken the party system. Old coalition truths no longer work. The AfD has stormed ahead in all three state parliaments. It is for the established parties to work out their responsibility for this development.
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.
Jan Schoofs, who contributed to our research project on party reform as Visiting Fellow, sheds light on recent efforts of German parties to adapt their organizations to the changing social, economic, and political environment. He carves out strategies that go beyond merely sustaining robust membership numbers, and states:
The successful member party is a learning party.
Read his full article on the AICGS blog.
As lessons can be drawn from international comparison, you may have a look at the project results on www.parteireform.org, too.
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.
On the 10th of November Claudia Chwalisz’s book “The Populist Signal” was presented and discussed in the offices of Das Progressive Zentrum. The event took place in the context of the “TruLies: The Truth about Lies about Europe” project. Claudia Chwalisz advocates that democratic innovation as the answer to growing populism.
After one year of project work, we were able to publicly present today at a press media breakfast, the results of the party reform project of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Das Progressive Zentrum.
Die direkte Beteiligung von Parteimitgliedern ist derzeit nicht nur rhetorisch en vogue: Viele Parteien haben in den letzten Dekaden ihre Beteiligungsarchitekturen ausgebaut und versprechen die weitere Stärkung des „Mitmach“-Gedankens. Dabei wurden in der Debatte bisher jedoch einige Aspekte nur unzureichend adressiert. In diesem Papier geben wir Antworten auf die Frage, was die Herausforderungen und die Maßstäbe für gute Mitgliederbeteiligung sind. Unser Fazit: Die deutschen Parteien sollten die Möglichkeiten für innerparteiliche Beteiligung weiter ausbauen ohne dabei wesentliche Qualitätsmaßstäbe aus dem Blick zu verlieren, wie wir sie im Folgenden systematisch skizzieren.
Weitere Informationen zu dem Projekt “Legitimation und Selbstwirksamkeit: Zukunftsimpulse für die Parteiendemokratie” sind auf www.parteireform.org zu finden.