Sociologist Nóra Regös is a research associate at the City of Heidelberg Coordination Office for Citizen Participation. She was previously a project assistant at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer and conducted research at the University of Vienna from 2015 to 2018. Regös attended a Hungarian-German Nationality High School in Budapest. Her studies in Munich and Heidelberg were funded by a PASCH scholarship provided by the DAAD.
The weekend of the was very hot and the UEFA European Championship had just started. Many participants nevertheless stuck with it from start to finish. This indicates to us that it was really interesting! I was particularly attracted by the fact that the focus was on Germany, Austria and Hungary. I’ve lived in all three countries and have thus acquired a certain knowledge of their domestic political structures.
The core question in the group discussions I attended was how we could promote an understanding democracy and the diversity of opinions. Democracy thrives on an exchange of views. We should listen to one another and try to understand the views of others rather than censoring and criticising different opinions. Otherwise it’s easy to impart the impression that a prevailing opinion is being dictated from above. At the same time we need to define a framework beyond which certain views are no longer acceptable, because they are no longer compatible with basic democratic principles. My working group and I spent a long time discussing these aspects in our workshop on culture and media. We also developed an idea for outreach civic education that focuses on acceptance of people’s equality. We still want to formulate a concept for putting it into practice.
I was very impressed by the level of planning that went into the digital programme. A few days in advance, everyone received a surprise package with tea, a nut mix, moderation cards and so on. It even included an elastic band for joint stretching exercises in front of the screen! We already felt like friends on the first evening. This positive atmosphere for discussion really benefited our motivation and productivity. Alternating between the main digital space and smaller break-out areas where four or five people could join in discussions made it possible to work effectively. The wonderful opening film and our online whiteboard tool Miró also provided some variety. We genuinely made the best of the situation where we could only meet digitally.
‘We’re reclaiming our country’, is a battle cry of modern right-wing populism in Europe. What would happen if right-wing populists were to form a government? And what can democratic civil society do to oppose that? DAAD alumni from Germany, Austria and Hungary addressed these issues in an online EU Ideas Lab.