„From Fictional to Functioning Democracy Developing Concepts and Strategies for an Inclusive and Participatory Europe (FIFUDEM)“
Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) in cooperation with Danube Rectors‘ Conference (DRC)
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.
Democracy Is (No!) Fiction
Developing Concepts and Strategies For an Inclusive and Participatory Europe
Kick-off Event of our Jean Monnet Project „From Fictional to Functioning Democracy Developing Concepts and Strategies for an Inclusive and Participatory Europe“ (FIFUDEM)
with a keynote speech by Ivan KRASTEV (Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia)
Liberal democracy appears to be at risk – both in Europe and abroad. New forms of façade democracies spread in Europe, 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. As a result, so-called stabilocracies epitomise superficial stability and simulate pluralism and peace. 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. Instead of exchanging different opinions in a reflected manner, mostly one-sided, individualized excerpts of the complex social reality find their way to the surface. 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 IDM and DRC Jean Monnet Project “From Fictional to Functioning Democracy (FIFUDEM)”, the conference brings up the problem of fictional democracy – a new form of façade democracy that produces illiberal fictions of democracy. It aims at creating new visions for actively committed citizenship in a functioning democracy, embedded in a common and inclusive European Union. In order to achieve this, academics and researchers specialised in EU matters, as well as civil society activists, stakeholders and practitioners and EU representatives are invited to develop strategies of strengthening active and participatory citizenship and functioning political communication methodologies.
Confirmed attendees include amongst others Gerda FÜRICHT-FIEGL (Danube University Krems),Gertraud ILLMEIER (Interkulturelles Zentrum, Vienna), Lukas MANDL (Member of the European Parliament, Brussels), Katarína MATHERNOVÁ (European Commission, Brussels), Hedvig MORVAI (Erste Foundation, Vienna), Toni PAVLOSKI (Deputy Director of the Directorate for the European Union at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, Skopje), Ivanka POPOVIC(Rector of the University of Belgrade, President of the Danube Rectors’ Conference), Wojciech PRZYBYLSKI (Editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and chairman of Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw), Krisztina ROZGONYI (Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication of the University of Vienna), Martin SELMAYR (Representative of the European Commission in Austria), Mihai Răzvan UNGUREANU (University of Bucharest, former Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister, Romania), Kristina VOKO (Country Director Albania at Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Tirana), Vuk VELEBIT (Political analyst (Talas.rs) & civic activist, Belgrade).
Statements from the kick-off event:
Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European Commission, Brussels
Deputy Director of the Directorate for the European Union at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, Skopje
Deputy head of Department for Knowledge and Communication Management, Director of University course “Political Communication”, Danube University Krems
Editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and chairman of Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw
Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication of the University of Vienna
Info Europa 2/2020 „Spielregeln der Macht“ as a supplement to „Die Presse“ and as ePaper
Info Europa 2/2021 „Rettungspläne für die Demokratie“, as a supplement to „Die Presse“ and as ePaper (24 June 2021)
Conference proceedings „Der Donauraum“ No 4/2020, published at Böhlau Verlag Wien.
Policy Paper 1/2021:
Home schooling, hybrid-learning and class room teaching: is COVID-19 changing things for good?
Policy Paper 2/2021:
Why the Western Balkans should join the EU immediately
IDM Democracy Talks/Session 1: „Participation and representation“
16 October 2020
IDM Democracy Talks/Session 2: „(Un)civil Society“
30 October 2020
IDM Democracy Talks/Session 3: „What about Solidarity in Europe? What about the European idea?“
24 November 2020
IDM Democracy Talks/Session 4: „Tackling nationalism, challenging certainties: Joint history textbooks as magic wands?
30 June 2021
FIFUDEM Final Conference: „Functioning Democracy in the Making“
13 July 2022
17th DRC Summer School 2022
11-15 July 2022