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


“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)

EU Project Reference: 611482-EPP-1-2019-1-AT-EPPJMO-SUPPA
EU Grant: 50.000 EUR
Programme: Erasmus+
Key Action: Jean Monnet Activities
Action Type: Jean Monnet Support to Institutions and Associations

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 ( & civic activist, Belgrade).

Statements from the kick-off event:

Ivan Krastev

Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia


Katarína Mathernová

Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European Commission, Brussels


Toni Pavloski

Deputy Director of the Directorate for the European Union at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, Skopje


Gerda Füricht-Fiegl

Deputy head of Department for Knowledge and Communication Management, Director of University course “Political Communication”, Danube University Krems


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



Recently published:

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)


Other publications:



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














FIFUDEM  events:


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

Living Danube Limes



Living Danube Limes is an EU funded Interreg Danube Transnational Programme project and focuses on connecting, enlivening, researching, preserving and highlighting the Roman Danube Limes as transnational cultural heritage of enormous significance, in order to create a sound foundation for a future European Cultural Route. Living Danube Limes stands for:

Valorising cultural heritage and fostering sustainable tourism by LIVING the common heritage on the DANUBE LIMES as basis for a cultural route.

Project objectives:

• Main objective of the project is the connection of the Danube region through its common Roman heritage. The project seeks to support its preservation through the creation of consciousness for the value of common heritage, while respecting local differences, particularities, and creating sensibility, that the Roman Danube Limes was not just a border fortification network, but also a vast trading zone with a lot of mobility.

• The project supports the UNESCO World Heritage nomination of the entire Danube Limes, specially focusing on the nomination process for Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.

• Another main objective of the project is laying the foundations for a future European Cultural Route traversing the entire Danube Region.

• The fostering of sustainable and eco-friendly tourism through tourism strategies specifically created for the Danube Limes region is another prime objective of Living Danube Limes. Outputs of the project:

• A Roman Danube ship of the 4th century AD will be reconstructed, using Roman tool replicas, over the course of the project and will cruise down the entire Danube in 2022, with an international living-history crew on board, in order to highlight the connecting character of the Roman Danube Limes. After the end of the project, the ship will be at the disposal of each project pilot-site for one year, in order to serve as attraction and motivation for further investment into the pilot-site.

• Through the application of modern non-invasive archaeological geo-prospection at chosen pilot-sites, various research gaps will be closed.

• A Living Danube Limes app will be created in order to host a comprehensive and easy to access archaeological and historic catalogue of the Danube region, which will merge data from predecessor initiatives with new data gained through the research activities carried out in Living Danube Limes.

• Virtual und augmented reality reconstructions of original Roman Limes infrastructure will be created from the data of the geophysical prospections at the project pilot-sites and will then be hosted on the Living Danube Limes app.

• The establishment of a transnational museum cluster will further the common presentation of Roman heritage in the Danube Region, in order to create better visibility and understanding of the vastness and importance of this connecting historic landscape. Reaching out to the people – making the common Roman past tangible:

• The project will establish eight national pilot-sites with regular public activities such as living-history events and workshops on historic crafting methods.

• Physical reconstructions at the pilot-sites will complement the virtual reality reconstructions and invite more interest and should lead to follow-up projects and investment at the site.

• Workshops for the dissemination of historic crafting techniques will be organised and documented.

• A living-history cruise from Germany to the Black Sea, with international living-history groups steering the reconstructed Roman ship of the 4th century AD, will be organised at the end of the project. The ship and its crew will be halting at each pilot-site in order to participate in a living-history festival there, which will further allow for a large array of interactions with the public.


The Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe is Associated Strategic Partner of the project

Duration: 01.06.2020 – 30.11.2022
Funding: EU
Principle investigator for the project (Danube University Krems): Mag. Dr. Anna Maria Kaiser

More information can be found on the website of Danube University Krems


  • Projektzeitraum2019-2022
  • ProjektleitungMag. Dr. Anna Maria Kaiser (Danube University Krems)

RII Menschenhandel

 Regional Implementation Initiative (RII)

ICU RERE – Knowledge triangle, innovation: Reinforcing of Education, Research and e-Health


The main objectives of this project are:
1) To establish and sustain effective Industry cooperating with University (ICU) Centres of e-health Innovations at some partner universities in LB and EG (LEG)
2) To develop a web platform based on Knowledge Triangle, innovation approach to develop and commercialize of e- Health innovative technologies and tools.
3) To develop a new integrated professional short term (6 months) and long term (one year) diploma program in e. Health and Medical informatics
4) To develop in-service lifelong learning training (LLT) program in the area of e-health innovative Medical/health/IT/ engineering.Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education Project
EU Project Reference: 609506-EPP-1-2019-1-SE-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP
Collaborative project of 20 EU and non-EU partner institutions
Coordinator & contractor: Linnéuniversitetet, Växjö, Sweden


Collaboration between universities and industries is critical for skills development, the generation, acquisition and adoption of knowledge and the promotion of entrepreneurship. Through collaborative interchange, the university becomes “a more vigorous partner in the search for answers” . The social and economic community provides a context for civic discourse and the reciprocal, interactional creation of knowledge. Community engaged education establishes the context for the exploration of pressing and complex problems, of which e-health and medical informatics is an example. Out of this reciprocal need comes the development of a model for interdisciplinary education that centers community as the context for learning. This model represents the theoretical and physical space where the university joins with others to address complex issues.

The consortium consists of 20 experienced partners, which have different levels of knowledge and skills in the fields of e- Health and Medical Informatics, as well as independent think tanks like the IDM, universities and NGO’s. The partnership has the necessary capacity to implement the project and achieve the expected outcomes. It will have an important impact on students, on the higher education institutions involved & on society at large such as increasing the number of MOU signed with health enterprises & increase the number of placements and job opportunities.

Official website of the project:

  • Projektzeitraum2019-2022

Interprofessional, student-run, primary Care clinics (I Care)

This EU project targets the implementation of new tools and technologies, skills, innovative training and student internship, teaching methods for active university-healthcare sector collaboration in primary health care.

Project name

Interprofessional, student-run, primary Care clinics: A university-enterprise knowledge triangle cooperation approach (I Care)

Project manager
Mosad Zineldin

Other project members
Teachers/researchers from different departments within health sciences at Linnaeus University

Participating organizations
From the EU: Linnaeus University; Università degli studi di Genova, Italy; Polytechnio Kritis, Greece; Tallinna Tehnikaülikool, Estonia; Institut für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa, Austria
From Egypt: Alexandria University, Assiut University, Al-Azhar University, Helwan University, Badr University, The British University in Egypt, International For Applied Science And Technology
From Lebanon: Notre Dame University, Beirut Arab University, Modern University for Business & Science, LEAD Healthcare Consultancy

EU/EACEA Erasmus+ Capacity Building

15 Jan 2021–14 Jan 2024

Medicine, health science (Department of Medicine and Optometry, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)

More about the project

This I Care joint EU project contributes to strengthening the capacities of the higher education partner universities and institutions of the programme countries Sweden, Italy, Austria, Estonia and Greece in the partner countries Egypt and Lebanon. This is done by targeting the implementation of new tools and technologies, skills, innovative training and student internship, teaching methods for active and university-healthcare sector collaboration in primary health care. By choosing this theme, the project fits perfectly into the field of “bringing universities together, by strengthening health sciences curricula (medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and nursing, allied health services, psychology, etc) through the  development of university-health sector I Care clinic centres.

This project will develop and establish I Care centres and clinics which provide education, training, research, primary health care patient treatment and community engagement. Some benefits of the inter-professional, student-led clinic (SLC) model are:

  1. For the medical and healthcare science students: an opportunity to develop clinical skills within a supervised environment.
  2. For patients: increased access for underserved and disadvantaged communities to free health care services.

The main objective of this project and the IPC/IPE model is to strengthen the university-enterprise (healthcare sittings) cooperation, and also to allow students to directly contribute to patient health and feel valued for what they can provide the society with during their training.

Further information:

  • Projektzeitraum2021 – 2024


70 Jahre IDM – ein Weg von Südtirol bis Moldau


Projektziel ist die Erstellung einer möglichst umfassenden Darstellung der Geschichte des IDM. Dabei wird die Metamorphose, die das Institut durchlaufen hat, untersucht. Gegründet wurde es 1953 in Salzburg außerhalb der sowjetischen Besatzungszone, von Persönlichkeiten, deren Bild des europäischen Kontinents aus Zeiten vor und nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg geprägt war. Die Entwicklung des Instituts wird – vor allem – auf der Basis der institutseigenen, mit einer kurzen Unterbrechung, erschienen Zeitschrift untersucht. Schwerpunkte sind das weltgeschichtliche Geschehen vom Kalten Krieg, über die Wende in den ostmitteleuropäischen Staaten 1989 und die EU-Erweiterungen 1995 und 2004, die sich in den Aktivitäten des Instituts widerspiegeln. Diese Untersuchungen werden durch Zeitzeugengesprächen als zweitem wesentlichen Quellenfundus ergänzt. Damit wird insbesondere die Zeit ab 1995, dem Beginn der EU-Mitgliedschaft Österreichs, aber auch des Vorsitzes Erhard Buseks mit seinen weitreichenden Kontakten, umfassend erforscht.

Mag. Paul Mychalewicz
(unter Mitarbeit von Mag. Niklas Perzi)

70 Jahre IDM – ein Weg von Südtirol bis Moldau

Das heutige Institut für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa wurde am 5. Dezember 1953 in Salzburg gegründet. Ins Leben gerufen wurde das Institut von drei Persönlichkeiten: Theodor (von) Hornbostel, Carl (von) Karwinsky, ehemaliger Staatssekretär für das Sicherheitswesen, sowie Dr. Rudolf Lodgman von Auen, als Repräsentant der Sudetendeutschen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, zuvor Mitglied des österreichischen Reichsrats, 1918/19 Landeshauptmann von „Deutschböhmen“, danach als deutschnationaler Politiker in der Tschechoslowakei tätig. In diesem Zusammenhang erscheinen zwei Umstände bemerkenswert: Einerseits der Gründungsort, andererseits die Mitwirkung eines Vertreters der (vertriebenen) Sudentendeutschen. Der Gründungsort Salzburg erklärt sich aus der Tatsache, dass 1953 Österreich noch vierfach besetzt war und man bewusst einen Ort in der sowjetischen Besatzungszone vermeiden wollte. Salzburg, in der amerikanischen Zone gelegen, erschien dagegen sicher. Die Teilnahme eines Vertreters der Sudetendeutschen weist auf einen wesentlichen Tätigkeitsbereich des Instituts hin, nämlich die „deutschen Sprachinseln auf der anderen Seite des Eisernen Vorhangs“. Allerdings hielt der Vorstand des Instituts bereits im März 1955, also noch vor dem Staatsvertrag, fest, „dass die Versöhnung der Nationalitäten eine der Hauptaufgaben des Instituts sein solle“. 1957, somit nach dem Ende der Besatzungszeit, übersiedelte das Institut nach Wien. Geleitet wurde die Organisation von 1953 bis 1971 von Theodor Hornbostel (1889 bis 1973), wobei Peter Berger als Generalsekretär die laufenden Geschäfte führte.6 Hornbostel war in der Zwischenkriegszeit als Diplomat tätig. Dabei waren der Donauraum, Mitteleuropa sowie darüber hinaus Europa seine besonderen Interessensgebiete. Von Anfang an unterstützte er die Paneuropa-Union Richard Coudenhove-Kalergis und wurde auch Vorstandsmitglied dieser 1922/23 in Wien gegründeten Organisation.



  • ProjektzeitraumMai 2021 – Oktober 2022
  • ProjektleitungMag. Paul Mychalewicz


Mechanisms of Modernization and Nation State Institutionalization in Central and Eastern Europe, 19th-21st c.

The Project is dedicated to a comparative analysis, from historical and political sciences perspectives, of the matrixes of modernity countries selected from South-Eastern and Central Europe have incompletely followed from mid-XIXth century to nowadays. The targeted countries are Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Hungary. Local academic projects with similar scopes have been written in the past decades, and have grown into various theories of “applied”/”imported”/ “naturally grown” processes of modernization, but larger regional analysis has but barely touched upon the matter. The Project will involve large horizontal cooperation between clusters of academics and researchers from the above-mentioned countries, will sustain contacts and academic exchanges between scholars, public intellectuals, journalists, and policy-makers from the above-mentioned countries. The Project aims at publishing partial and definitive results of research, and may be relevant to the European present and future.
The Project is funded by 

  • Projektzeitraum2019-2020
  • ProjektleitungMihai Razvan Ungureanu
  • Projektmitarbeiterinnen: Carmen Bendovski



Das IDM errichtet in Zusammenarbeit mit dem österreichischen Parlament und unterstützt von der ERSTE Stiftung neue Demokratiewerkstätten.

Die Demokratiewerkstatt im österreichischen Parlament bietet Workshops für Kinder und Jugendliche an. Sie wurde 2007 von der österreichischen Parlamentsverwaltung entwickelt und schnell zu einem sehr erfolgreichen politischen Bildungsprojekt. Junge Schülerinnen und Schüler im Alter von 8-15 Jahren setzen sich unter motivierender Anleitung in sechs unterschiedlichen Werkstätten mit wesentlichen Themen auseinander: Parlament: Der Weg eines Gesetzes; Medien: Wie informiere ich mich?; PolitikerInnen: Wer vertritt mich?; Partizipation: Meine Meinung zählt; Zeitreise: Die Republik erforschen; Europa: Die Europäische Union kennenlernen; Bis dato haben schon rund 120.000 Kinder und Jugendliche die Demokratiewerkstatt in Wien absolviert.

Mit Unterstützung der ERSTE Stiftung konnten weitere Parlamentsverwaltungen eine eigene Demokratiewerkstatt aufbauen, jeweils in Format, Didaktik und Anspruch eng abgestimmt mit der österreichischen Demokratiewerkstatt. Die Demokratiewerkstätten in Montenegro (seit 2014) und Kosovo (seit 2018) sind feste Bestandteile der Demokratievermittlung in ihren Ländern geworden, mit hohen Teilnehmerzahlen. Beim Besuch von Nationalratspräsident Sobotka in Albanien und Nordmazedonien im Frühjahr 2020 bekräftigten die Parlamente in Tirana und Skopje ihren Wunsch, in Kooperation mit Wien eigene Demokratiewerkstätten zu errichten. Auch beim Wien-Besuch des Generalsekretärs der Kanzlei des Nationalrates der Slowakischen Republik Daniel Guspan im Herbst 2020 wurde eine Zusammenarbeit beim Aufbau einer Demokratiewerkstatt in Bratislava besprochen.

Für die Umsetzung dieser Pläne rings um weitere Demokratiewerkstätten zeichnet das IDM im Einvernehmen mit der österreichischen Parlamentsverwaltung und gefördert von der ERSTE Stiftung verantwortlich. Das IDM wird im Zuge der Implementierung auch die weitere Vernetzung der bestehenden und neuen Demokratiewerkstätten intensivieren, um in Abstimmung mit dem österreichischen Parlament den fachlichen Austausch und das hohe didaktische Niveau der Trainerinnen und Trainer aller Länder weiter zu begleiten.

IDM Policy Paper Series 1/2021

Home schooling, hybrid-learning and class room teaching: is Covid-19 changing things for good?

von Robin Gosejohann

“Die COVID-19 Pandemie hat Schulen letztes Jahr auch in der Donauregion abrupt vor Herkulesaufgaben gestellt. Bildung im Regelbetrieb musste neu und oft anders organisiert werden. Glaubte man zunächst an eine Rückkehr zu business-as-usual müssen sich nun alle – Lehrpersonal, Schülerinnen und Schüler, und auch Eltern – auf bleibende Änderungen einstellen. Das Diskussionspapier greift den hohen gesellschaftlichen Druck auf, unter dem Lehrerinnen und Lehrer arbeiten müssen – und sucht dabei nach begrüßenswerten Entwicklungen, die in diesem Ausnahmezustand (neuen) Schwung bekommen haben. Recht schnell wurden z.B. IT-Fähigkeiten und die entsprechenden Ausstattungen als selbstverständlich angesehen – was die oft erstaunlich analoge Umsetzung in der Schulpraxis umso nüchterner wirken lässt. Die aktuelle öffentliche Aufmerksamkeit für Schulen und ihre Nöte, so das PPS, muss jedenfalls genutzt werden, um bleibende Verbesserungen im Bildungssystem zu sichern.”

Lesen Sie das Policy Paper hier.

Weiterführende Informationen finden Sie hier:

Information zur Demokratiewerkstatt des österreichischen Parlaments


Demokratiewerkstatt virtuell

  • Projektkoordination: Mag. Robin Gosejohann, MA