Democracy

Introduction

We perceive of democracy as a socio-political process driven by citizens' active participation and democratic institutions. "It is apt to say that the term 'democratisation' epitomises the most universal socio-political imperative of our age" (Hennis 1970).
Democratisation is a chief tenet of green politics and a central issue in political education. Still it is often far from clear how to translate the general notion of democratisation into concrete projects, campaigns, or educational programmes. "Civil society" is one such concept which, while widely embraced, is very contentious when it comes to questions of implementation. Other such issues are the crisis of party democracy, the media and democracy, as well as numerous fundamental questions surrounding the relationship between politics and science. All of these are part of the foundation's activities. A further focus of our work are programmes that tackle far-right politics and racism. For us political education means getting people involved, empowering people to participate in political processes, and advising political activists.
Concerning the EU and European policy, our focus is mainly on the following areas: Democracy and participation in the European Union; ecology and sustainable development; EU enlargement; a common European foreign and security policy; and the future of labour and social policy.

Current

Slovakia’s Presidential Election: When Playing the Conservative Card Doesn’t Work

April 8, 2014 - It is 25 March 2014, four days before the second round of Slovakia’s presidential election. The country is flooded with black-and-white billboards featuring a quote of civic candidate Andrej Kiska’s affirmative response to a question posed by the daily SME: “Are you for registered partnerships for homosexuals?” The billboards were part of a negative campaign against Kiska. The opposing candidate, Prime Minister Robert Fico, chairman of the Direction-Social Democracy party (Smer-SD), has consistently opposed such partnerships – which he has stressed repeatedly in televised debates.

 

Zora Bútorová more»

Hungary after 2014: A New Path for Sustainable Growth

- January 22, 2014 - Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, GEF and the Progressive Economic Policy Foundation host the GREEN JOB SUMMIT 2014, a venue for leading progressive politicians and experts to exchange ideas regarding a Green New Deal after Hungary's parliamentary elections in 2014.

 

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Facts and figures about the animals we eat

- January 13, 2014 - The way in which we produce and consume meat affects many aspects of our lives and our environment: health, animal protection, food safety, agriculture, trade, environment and climate impacts are only some of these dimensions. Our new publication, the Meat Atlas 2014, describes and illustrates these relationships.

 

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Anti-Roma Sentiment in Central Eastern Europe

Anti-Roma Sentiment on the Rise in the Czech Republic

November 15, 2013 - The Czech Republic is showing signs of a new wave of agitation against Roma. For months now, hardly a week has gone by in which neo-Nazi groups have not marched somewhere in the country and – actively supported by “normal citizens” – chanted slogans like “black pigs”, “against multiculti” and “Gypsies to work”.

 

Silja Schultheis more»

Remembering the victims of the Roma Holocaust and the more recent wave of ’Roma murders’ in Hungary

- August 1, 2013 - Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed each year since 1997 on 2 August, marks the anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called Gypsy Family Camp in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp. On that day in 1944, the Nazis killed 2,897 men, women, and children in the gas chambers. On 2 August we remember not only them, but the tens of thousands of Roma who were murdered during the ‘Porajmos’.  more»

Political Crisis in the Czech Republic

The 2013 Elections: The Deconsolidation of the Party System and the Rise of Anti-Politics

November 18, 2013 - This year’s early elections to the Chamber of Deputies brought neither calm nor a left-wing majority to the Czech political scene. To the contrary, we experienced the greatest shock to the party system since the 1998 elections, the rise of new political parties and anti-political, populist entities, i.e. a deepening of trends which appeared already in the 2010 elections. The overall surprise at the election results was complemented on the very next day by a row within the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD).
Štěpán Drahokoupil more»

Europe

Croatia in the EU – a concerned celebration

- 5. června 2013 - In a few weeks, Croatia will join the European Union as its 28th member state. This will resonate as ‘boarding the Titanic’ for some, and for others as the final return to the civilisation to which Croatia traditionally belongs. With its fresh war trauma, recent socialist history, strong historic ties to the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, experience of Ottoman times and vibrant Mediterranean life, Croatia is home to various aspects of a diverse European identity.

 

Vedran Horvat more»

Presidential elections in the Czech Republic 2013

Czech Republic: Miloš Zeman’s Comeback

February 14, 2013 -

In January 2013, the Czech president was directly elected for the first time. The winner of the run-off election on 25 and 26 January was former Prime Minister Miloš Zeman. His opponent was Foreign Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. What does the election mean for Czech Politics?

Eva van de Rakt more»

What the Czech Presidential Election Tells Us

- February 22, 2013 - In its own way, the first direct presidential election in history confirmed experts’ expectations as well as their warnings. First and foremost, the view was reaffirmed that a direct presidential election would lead to a polarisation of society and that the election campaign would divide it.  Vladimíra Dvořáková more»

Václav Havel and the presidential election

- January 21, 2013 -

The Czech Republic has now gone through the first round of a direct presidential election. Of the nine contenders, two advanced to the finale – former Prime Minister Miloš Zeman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. In recent days, the media have also analysed the approaching second round from various angles. One important viewpoint must be especially accentuated, however.

Petr Janoušek more»

Gender Democracy

Quotas matter for full equal political and economic participation

March 11, 2013 -

Due to the lack of equal political participation of women quotas were implemented over the last years – by developed and developing countries in order to improve women’s political participation. Empirical evidence shows that it is a powerful and successful tool.

 

Barbara Unmüßig more»

Dossier "Europe's common future. Ways out of the crisis"

Dossier Europe's common future. Ways out of the crisis

Debating alternative proposals for Europe's common future

The nationally spun controversies over long-term counter-strategies and the social distortions in the countries affected by the crisis not only threaten to break up the euro zone, they also jeopardise the project for a unified Europe. Now is the time for a broadly based public debate on alternative proposals for the future of Europe.

>> Read the dossier

Dossier "Focus on Hungary"

Milla demonstration, 23 October 2012 (c) Gabriella Csoszó  
The Heinrich Böll Foundation has compiled a dossier containing articles and interviews on the situation in Hungary since the right-wing government came to power in April 2010. Our intention is to raise awareness about the changes in the domain of public life in Hungary at “half-time” – two years before the next parliamentary elections. Readers will find that the arguments and opinions presented in the dossier provide an acute, sometimes trenchant critique of the current government and its policies.

Link to dossier

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2012 Conference: The State and Future of Democracy in Hungary and CEE

Ways out of the Crisis

March 11, 2013 - The debates surrounding the far-reaching political reforms introduced by Hungary’s right-wing government (the citizenship and media laws, as well as its new constitution) have opened a space for critical reflection – not only on the current government’s policies, but also on the two decades of democratic construction that preceded them. Védegylet (Protect the Future), the One Million for the Freedom of the Hungarian Press Movement and the Heinrich Böll Foundation would like to seize the opportunity to reflect on the state of democracy in the region and on the prospects for democratic development in Hungary.  more»

SurVivArt - Art, Environment and Gender

SurVivArt - Arts, Environment, and Gender (In)Equality

January 24, 2012 - SurVivArt has been inspired by the German Kulturstiftung’s initiative Über Lebenskunst and developed by the Heinrich Böll Foundation HQ with support from its offices around the world. By joining the “SurVivArt” initiative the Heinrich Böll Foundation Prague would like to contribute to the international mosaic with a rather different perspective. The Prague office has not approached any artists to elaborate a specific art project. The aim of the Prague project in its first phase is to provide a broader insight into contemporary artists’ practices, issues and projects in the Czech Republic and to outline whether and how they respond to current social and environmental challenges. more»

Democracy

The outlook for Slovak-Hungarian relations after the 2012 parliamentary elections

April 10, 2012 - Slovakia has become the second Central European country after Hungary with a one-party government in power. And although – unlike Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party in Hungary – Robert Fico’s Smer-SD party in Slovakia lacks a constitutional majority in parliament which would allow them to make fundamental changes to the political system, the strongest politicians in the two neighbouring countries are in a comparable position today. After election victories, they have both assumed exclusive responsibility for conditions in all areas of life in society under the government’s purview, especially in the area of social and economic policy. Grigorij Mesežnikov more»

Slovakia’s 2012 Election – Stakes, Results and Consequences

- March 22, 2012 -

Well – we shall see – but disaster looks very different from the results of Slovakia’s 2012 election and there appears to actually be some room for moderate optimism. The composition of the new government, the government’s program and the continuation – or not – of the Gorilla investigation by police will shed more light on these questions within few weeks.

Juraj Mesík more»

The public-private road to bankruptcy?

- December 22, 2011 - A failure to book public-private partnerships on balance-sheets allows governments to drive a hole through plans to cap deficits in current fiscal and financial crisis, Juraj Mesík writes in his commentary. more»

Contemporary History

Heinrich Böll's estate in Cologne - After the collapse of the Historical Archive of Cologne

April 17, 2009 - On March 3, 2009, the building at Severinstraße 222 in Cologne that housed the Historical Archive collapsed. The Historical Archive of Cologne is the largest municipal archive in Germany. Alongside official documents, maps and blueprints it also housed the private estates of around 700 musicians and artists, master builders and architects of the cathedral, Cologne authors (Irmgard Keun, Paul Schallück, Hans Mayer, Hans Bender, Dieter Wellershoff) and also Heinrich Böll. Jochen Schubert and Markus Schäfer more»

Contemporary History

1989-2009: 20 Years after November 89

Internetdossier commemorates the 20th anniversary of democratic changes in the Central and Eastern Europe by presenting the views on the topic from the Czech and Slovak civil society's authors. more»

Book

Petra Kelly. A Remembrance.

- March 29, 2009 - She was one of the best known personalities during the 1980s; an icon of the global ban-the-bomb and peace movements and a protagonist for ecology and human rights. But all this is not just history - it is worth reflecting on what has remained valuable until the present day. Extracts from original texts, six essays on her life and work and many photographs trace the most important stations in her life. more»