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07: Democracies under pressure: Civil society and populism

Breakout / Future of the EU
in englischer Sprache

From integration to creating more equal chances of participation, civil society plays an essential role in the construction of a pluralistic and diverse society. Thus, it helps to shape the concept of ‘European citizenship’ aiming towards a united Europe. What plausible options beyond institutional democratic structures can facilitate organising and opening a European civil society? How can civil society further develop a narrative that rejects populist discourses and instead presents a Europe built upon the foundations of solidarity and belonging?
Additional input to this topic is offered during the plenary on ‘Democracies under pressure’ and in the Breakout Session 19 ‘The media and populism’.

Executive Director, European Alternatives e.V., Berlin
Theatre and film director, YouTube vlogger; Founder, Country For All, Budapest
Co-founder and board member, Operation Libero; Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen
Former President, German Bundestag, Berlin
Journalist and Co-Editor, Republik AG, Zurich Chair


Executive Director, European Alternatives e.V., Berlin

2000-2002 Hockerill Anglo-European College, Bishop's Stortford
2002-2006 Bachelor, European Studies, King's College London
2004 Federal Ministry of Justice, Berlin
2004-2005 Institut d'Etudes Politique de Paris (Sciences-Po), Paris
Amnesty International France, Paris
2006-2007 Master, Modern Society and Global Transformations, University of Cambridge
2007-2008 FLACSO Argentina - Latin-American Institute for Social Sciences, Buenos Aires
2008-2009 Junior Project Manager, GIZ - German International Cooperation Agency International Services, Brussels
2009-2010 Mercator Fellowship in International Affairs
2009 European Department / EU Justice and Home Affairs, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin
2010 Office with Regional Function for East and Central Africa, International Organisation for Migration, Nairobi
UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Rabat
2010-2013 Coordinator, European Alternatives Berlin
2011-2013 Evaluation Officer, Camino gGmbh - Werkstatt für Ideen, Berlin
since 2014 Director, European Alternatives (Citizenship and Democracy Director until 2015, from March 2015 on Director of Programmes)
since 2017 Executive Director, European Alternatives


Theatre and film director, YouTube vlogger; Founder, Country For All, Budapest

 Márton Gulyás (1986) theatre and film producer/director. Previously managing director for over half of a decade of Krétakör (Chalkcircle) Ensemble. Gulyás has presented his productions in Budapest, the Berlin Biennale, and the Münich Opera Festival. He is the host of Hungary’s biggest political youtube channel: slejm. He is also founder and activist of the Country For All movement.


Co-founder and board member, Operation Libero; Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen

 Stefan Schlegel is a legal scientist. He got his Ph.D. from the University of Berne in Switzerland. Stefan got involved in Immigration Law as a student and volunteered in local NGOs providing legal advice to irregular migrants and asylum seekers. Stefan is a co-founder of the young Swiss Think Tank "foraus - Forum Aussenpolitik" and a former member of its board. In 2014, Stefan co-founded the political movement and campaigning organization "Operation Libero" that is fighting for an open and tolerant Switzerland in an open and tolerant Europe. He is a member of its board and responsible for its political program. He is a Senior Research Fellow at a Max Planck Institute in Göttingen (D).


Former President, German Bundestag, Berlin

 Prof. Rita Süssmuth is former President of the German Bundestag and former Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Women, Youth and Health in Germany. In 2006 she became the Chair of the EU High Level Group on "Social Integration of Ethnic Minorities and their full Participation in the Labor Market". She was also Director of the Research Institute "Woman and Society" and is currently the President of the Consortium of Germany Universities for the Turkish-German University in Istanbul (K-DTU). Prof. Süssmuth was Chair of the Independent Council of Experts on Migration and Integration and holds a series of other positions with national and international bodies such as President of the German Poland Institute (DPI) and as Chairwoman of the Polish-German Science Foundation (DPWS).


Journalist and Co-Editor, Republik AG, Zurich

 Daniel Binswanger, born 1969, studied Philosophy and Comparative Literature in Berlin and Paris. From 2002 on, he has been working as Paris correspondent at different Swiss newspapers. Mr Binswanger has published a weekly column since ten years, in which current political and economic issues of national and international importance are discussed. The column was published in the paper "Das Magazin" until late 2017 and since then in the new Swiss digital magazine "Die Republik". Additionally, he will manage Republik’s new feature article (Feuilleton), starting from September 2018.

Political Symposium

show timetable


11:30 - 14:30My Europe – My StoryPartner
15:00 - 16:30OpeningPlenary
17:00 - 18:30New perspectives on EU enlargementPlenary
19:30 - 21:30Drink receptionSocial


06:30 - 07:30DER STANDARD Morning BriefingPlenary
06:30 - 07:30POLITICO Morning BriefingPlenary
07:00 - 10:00Alpbach Hikes: Hiking with pioneers – Mindfulness in educationPartner
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 01: Whoever has the money has the power? The future financing of the EUBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 02: EU-Russia relations: Attempting a cool-headed analysisBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 03: Citizens don’t bite: Experiences and learnings from successful participation projects in EuropeBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 04: European security and the Mediterranean: A simulationBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 05: A world without nukes? The impact of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear WeaponsBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 06: Women and youth empowerment: The Sustainable Development Goals in practiceBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 07: Democracies under pressure: Civil society and populismBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 08: Implementing the SDGs: The challenges countries face and the solutions they offerBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 09: European security in the age of hybrid threats: Rethinking military and civilian cooperation?Breakout
13:00 - 14:15Sovereignty in the EU: Who decides?Plenary
15:00 - 16:15Democracies under pressurePlenary
16:30 - 18:30Green Finance: Private capital against climate changePartner
16:30 - 18:30Lessons from the best: What we can learn from Europe’s most sustainable regionsPartner
16:45 - 18:15The subsidiarity principle under scrutinyPlenary
18:00 - 20:00European-Israeli DinnerSocial
18:15 - 19:00POLITICO Happy HourSocial


06:30 - 07:30DER STANDARD Morning BriefingPlenary
06:30 - 07:30POLITICO Morning BriefingPlenary
07:00 - 10:00Alpbach Hikes: Hiking with pioneers – Mindfulness in politicsPartner
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 10: Living the Swiss militia principle: Ensuring resilience through involvementBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 11: Israel: Can democracy exist without peace?Breakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 12: Defending democracy in the digital age: From theory to practiceBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 13: The end of oil: Global systems in transitionBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 14: Are you acting or reacting? Countering climate change through new partnershipsBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 15: Culture and identity: What level of adaptation is required for successful integration?Breakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 16: Promoting sustainable developmentBreakout
08:00 - 10:30Breakout Session 17: Democracies under pressure: The media and populismBreakout
11:00 - 12:45From grey to green: Green infrastructure as a way out of the biodiversity crisisPartner
12:30 - 13:45Global power shifts: Implications for Europe and AsiaPlenary
14:15 - 15:45European Union – Russia: What to do?Plenary
16:15 - 17:15The future of the EU: Priorities of the Austrian EU Council PresidencyPlenary


07:00 - 10:00Alpbach Hikes: Hiking with pioneers – Mindfulness in businessPartner
07:30 - 08:30The rule of law under scrutinyPlenary
09:00 - 10:30Reconciling (bio)diversity protection and efforts to mitigate climate changePlenary