Citizens’ discussion/lecture “How endangered is our democracy?”

Citizens´ discussion/ lecture "how endangered is our democracy?"

Lecture with Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Merkel em. (Science Center Berlin and Senior Fellow Democracy Institute/ Central European University Budapest)  and public Dicussion with Prof. Dr. Domke, Prof. Dr. klemm, Prof. Dr. Liste and Dr. Patrice Poutrus

To introduce the research institute and present the research fields, a kick-off event was held on May 3, 2022 in the Kulturhaus of the city of Geisa.

In the first part, the first Geisa Talk took place as a citizens’ discussion round. Prof. Dr. Christine Domke, Prof. Dr. Matthias Klemm, Prof. Dr. Phillip Liste and Dr. Patrice Pouturs discussed the changed global constellation following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Christiane Kuller and took place under the title “A new order for Europe? – war in Ukraine and the future of democracy” and was very well attended.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Merkel gave the keynote speech at the opening of the Pont Alpha e.V. research institute entitled “Endangered democracy?.

Wolfgang Merkel said it was his “downright brilliant idea” to set up such an institute not in Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, but in the “periphery”, before giving an insight into the state of democracy.

In fact, he noted, there is a worldwide deterioration in quality, an erosion of democracy with regard to radicalization, polarization and the restriction of civil liberties. “It is possible that we are once again in a race between systems,” said Merkel.

Inequality is one of the major drivers of democratic crises. Another is moralism. Without morality, there is no democracy. In Merkel’s view, however, moralism is something else. It is characterized by ascribing moral superiority to one’s own position. “The question now is whether we are experiencing a new polarization of the debate with the war in Ukraine,” said the keynote speaker. He called for supposedly immoral arguments not to be lost to democracy.

The good news: according to Merkel, democracy is not currently under existential threat in Germany, but there is a measurable downward trend here too. “Democracies are not built to last forever. Democracies are fragile. They have more problems today than they did 20 years ago. This is an important area that needs to be researched and communicated to society,” he concluded.

The mayor of Geisa, Manuela Henkel, thanked everyone who supported the establishment of the research institute. For Geisa, once the westernmost town of the Warsaw Pact, this is a great opportunity to come to terms with the history of the region along the inner-German border and to pass on the knowledge gained from it. She was particularly grateful to the founding father of Point Alpha, Berthold Dücker, who ultimately had the idea to establish the research institute.

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