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From Fictional to Functioning Democracy:
Developing Concepts and Strategies for an Inclusive and Participatory Europe (FIFUDEM)

The key points of this IDM project are 1) to scrutinize the contexts and causes of illiberal, respectively fictional democracy, 2) to develop concepts and strategies of strengthening liberal, respectively functioning democracy and its functioning political communication as well as active citizenship in an inclusive and participatory EU, and 3) to disseminate the project’s findings through awareness raising activities, events and publications for different targets groups on the local, regional, national, international and EU level. The rationale behind this proposal comes from the worrying erosion tendencies of liberal democracy as well as from the increase of populism, extremism and religious radicalisation in the Danube Region and Central Europe.

All these developments pose challenges to European integration and may be defined as “tribalism”. No matter which form of xenophobia and extremism, if politically or religiously connoted and legitimised, tribalism jeopardises hitherto established European standards of liberal democracy, checks and balances, and the rule of law. Processes of integration are even more challenged by the lack of a European public sphere. At the same time ostracism of critical media and journalists threatens press freedom in many places and forces the national filter of Europe in national media. The main objectives of IDM as a long-year extramural interdisciplinary research institution are therefore to conduct research on European integration and enlargement in its focus region, and disseminating the project’s results through the international IDM publications, events and network as well as through the network of the IDM project partner, the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC), including 64 university members. All these various activities aim to affect various segments of the public discourse on the importance of strengthening liberal and functioning democracy and to support active citizenship in an inclusive and participatory European Union.


FIFUDEM events & publications:

Call for Papers: Der Donauraum



Thematic issue of the regional journal "Der Donauraum": From Fictional to Functioning Democracy. Developing Concepts and Strategies for an Inclusive and Participatory Europe

Submission Deadline: May 31, 2020

Language: English

Liberal democracy appears to be at risk – both in Europe and abroad. New forms of populist democracies spread, framed by biased political communication through ideological misinformation, hate speech and tribalism. Authoritarian politicians try to turn Europe into an arena, where metaphorically speaking leaders of tribes are fighting each other by any tools to cement their own positions. In parallel with the rise of xenophobia, populism and radicalisation, liberal democratic principles such as checks and balances are gradually eroding. Moreover, the lack of a common public sphere is challenging European integration processes. Decreasing press freedom and increasing mistrust in traditional media pave the way for populists that rely on oligarchic media networks and use the effects of so-called ‘filter bubbles’ and ‘echo chambers’ on social media. Biased (social) media thus creates but a mere individual fiction, the façade of a homogeneous world corresponding to the viewers’ perceptions.

As part of the Jean Monnet Project titled “From Fictional to Functioning Democracy (FIFUDEM)”, carried out by the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) and Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC), the thematic issue of the journal "Der Donauraum" brings up the problem of fictional democracy - a new form of façade democracy that produces illiberal fictions of democracy. With this publication, the editors Dr. Erhard Busek and Dr. Silvia Nadjivan aim to collect practical visions and scientific approaches for actively committed citizenship in a functioning democracy, embedded in a common and inclusive European Union. Below we present a list of potential (not limited) topics for the thematic issue:

-           Use of Education for Democratic Participation

-           Ways of Political Responsibility for Functioning Democracy

-           Concepts for Interrelations of Civic Engagement and Liberal Democracy

-           New Democratic Forms of (Social) Media Communication

With this Call for Papers we are seeking both junior and senior scholars and practitioners from various disciplines who would like to present their research results on this topic in the upcoming issue. In addition to invited authors, including the panelists of the projects' kick-off conference in January 2020, Vienna, the editors particularly encourage authors from Central East and South East Europe to complement the conference proceedings with their perspectives and ideas.

Further information on the guidelines for authors can be found here: www.idm.at/images/derdonauraum/Guidelines_Donauraum.pdf

Please submit your paper (between 20.000-40.000 characters, spaces included) till latest May 31, 2020 with the following information: a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the publication, c) short biography (not more than 500 characters), d) title of paper, e) abstract

E-mails should be entitled: Der Donauraum 4/2020

Papers should be submitted to the journal editor, Ms. Daniela Neubacher, d.neubacher@idm.at

For more information on the project, please visit:



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