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The second edition of the Austrian Summer Lab focused on urgent questions around the state of democracy on various levels under the title ‘Disputed Democracy – Democracy in Societies of Decline’
This year’s Summer Lab looked into the state of democracy on the local, national, European and global level while identifying different dimensions of decline that societies are facing. In this framework, GEF hosted an international workshop in English on progressive alliances in Europe between social movements, the Greens and local initiatives from different countries. This included the analysis of responses by governing parties as well as by the right-wing opposition to facets of decline and seek to formulate Green alternatives for the future of European democracies and a united European democracy.
Different formats to create lively debates
To engage all participants, different methods of training were used and as many slots as possible for open debates, such as ‘sessions of larger groups’ as well as ‘Open Space’ and free planning sessions, were provided. By combining the training soft skills such as campaigning, network analysis, communication, moderation methods with policy and the party programme, the Summer Lab aimed to generate ideas, new networks and new collaborations between and among Green party members and politicians, activists and different actors of civil society. Gathering around 100 participants in the idyllic scenery of Kapfenberg in Austria, its aim was to formulate Green responses to the interplay between social and economic tendencies of decline, symptoms of crisis and how to strengthen our democracies.
Parallel workshops around ‘Change’
The hands-on training were done in four ‘in-depth workshops‘, with one specific focus each, which were organised in three phases spread across the two days of the Summer Lab:
a) How to democratise and restructure the Green party, 30 years after its foundation, in order to carry forward its objectives and regain its sociopolitical role.
b) Cities as lively spaces of political contestation: Discussing questions of the public space, commercialisation of cities and common goods.
c) What challenges does the current world of employment generate for the mobilisation of citizen’s and how can contribute to a democratisation of the production of wealth?
d) Narratives for change: How can we create alliances of different forces in Europe, which oppose the Status Quo while disassociating from the far right at the same time. This workshop will be organised by the Green European Foundation with the support of Grüne Akademie Steiermark and the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation.
The ‘Big Picture’
The ‘Big Picture’ panel debate helped frame the political and societal context and will give, alongside the workshops and other forms of discussions, further food for thought.
The panelists will be:
Dr Gael Brustier, Political scientist and political activist, France
MA Carina Altreiter, Institute of Sociology, University of Vienna, Austria
Prof Dr Andreas Fisahn, Faculty of Law, University of Bielefeld, Germany
MA Gabu Heindl, Architect and City Planner, Austria
MA Hanna Lichtenberger, Institute for International Politics, University of Vienna, Austria
Prof em. Dr Klaus Offe, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany
It is hoped that through the Summer Lab, individual projects by participants on the basis of those new networks and alliances will be initiated, and discussions on a progressive future of Europe, strategies to fight the far right, and on progressive populism in Europe will be continued afterwards, while integrating local and national initiatives with European struggles and future European activities.
For the full programme (available in German only), please click here.
Registration: closed since 31 May. Stay tuned for the outcomes of the event!
Date/Time: 14-16 July
Place: Kapfenberg, Upper Styria (Austria)