Why democracy festivals, a staple in northern Europe, are spreading

Come for the beer—and stay for a chat with the president

12.9.2019

The schedules have evolved to focus on audience participation, rather than endless policy announcements

Come for the beer—and stay for a chat with the president

and Icelanders to Lysa . Across the Baltic sea there are similar jamborees in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The combined audience is more than 600,000 people each year. About 90% of parliamentary parties send representatives. Recently the organisers banded together to form the “Democracy Festivals Association”, which will offer support to groups from other countries who want to put on something similar. The popularity of these events in northern Europe owes much to those countries’ political cultures, reckons Zakia Elvang, the Democracy Festival Association’s chairwoman, since “there is less distance between the regular citizens and the elite of society” than elsewhere. The organisers encourage attendees to see themselves as a crucial part of the political system. Admission is always free. The welcoming atmosphere, where you can “wear your sneakers and have a beer”, is designed to attract as wide a range of people as possible. The schedules have evolved, Ms Elvang explains, to focus on audience participation, rather than endless policy announcements. “You might come along with your kids because you’ve seen that there’s a children’s soccer game, but then you stay there,” she says. “You overhear a conversation about environmental politics, and decide to check it out. It opens up this space for people who are not already attending the church of democracy.” You might even bump into the president at a barbecue: in Paine Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia’s leader, was ambling between kiosks. At times this idyllic vision of political participation runs up against uncomfortable realities. In both 2017 and 2018 the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi organisation, disrupted Sweden’s Almedalsveckan . But the idea of citizens celebrating their political differences over a picnic is catching on elsewhere. The Democracy Festival Association is working with organisers in Ukraine and South Korea to set up their own events. Groups from Moldova, Poland, Georgia, Turkey, Nepal, Kenya and Somalia are also interested. Festivals sans frontières are also starting to appear. On September 6th and 7th Brussels hosted Jubel Festival, the first official pan-European democracy festival, following a one-day prototype last year. The agenda was based on 150 interviews conducted across Europe, asking people which issues mattered most to them. Alain Deneef, president of the Jubel Festival board, wanted the event to represent “the daily life of the people, their present, their concerns, their worries, their aspirations”. Mr Deneef cheerfully admits that this noble aim is made trickier by the self-selecting nature of participants. Whereas Scandinavian festivals enjoy widespread attendance from across the political spectrum, in Brussels “it’s the usual suspects who respond, of course”, he says. “Socialists, liberals, Christian Democrats, greens, and people on the left.” Nonetheless, the spread of these events shows that ordinary people have plenty of appetite for civic engagement and public debate—as long as it is lubricated by a couple of drinks and the odd ice-cream. In an age when democracy is threatened by online polarisation and institution-flouting populists, these festivals offer something to cheer. Read more: The Economist

Let the Winter come and end the Summer for these Europeans to go back to become, well, Europeans. They are not like us from the Tropics. We know how to live in the hot weather. The Europeans don't. That’s nice!

'A storm is coming' - One migrant family's bid to reach EuropeWith migrants only allowed one backpack each on the smugglers' boats that c... Know what would make a great companion piece? “A Storm is Here. One European Family’s Struggle to Cope With the Influx of Immigrants.” Safe journey. Why germany?! Its not about security, its about living in the land of milk and honey. But most likely they wont be happy here too. Mostly shitty workplaces wait or social care. And normally (if we wouldnt have these ***** up politicians) there are laws and visa requirements

Amazon and Roku are bringing their streaming rivalry to EuropeAmazon's Fire TV and Roku are expanding into key European markets like the U.K. and Germany. Emirates_Airline_Boykott UAE commits crimes against humanity in Yemen, Please stop finance UAE to slaught& assasinate innocent people

Ford makes big electric push in Europe with new launchesFord Motor Co said on Tuesday it would launch eight electric vehicles in Europe ... good news for $GTX 'Pushing' not a great selling point where cars are concerned! 😂🤣😂🤣 If only the electricity networks were ready for this large influx of electrical vehicles... Apparently power plants are running at maximum capacity too right now without the massive car charging. The fuel you don't put in at the gas station must go into the plants first.

A $100 billion tech company you've never heard of just listed in EuropeProsus, a spinoff of South African consumer internet group Naspers valued at $100 billion, listed on the Amsterdam Euronext exchange Wednesday.

The maxed-out iPhone 11 Pro Max costs $1,449, and is even pricier in EuropeThe sun still rises every day, and the iPhones are still expensive.data-page-subject=true ...'Apple’s iPhone 11 Has a New Feature: A Lower Price' The pricing here in the UK is bullshit. We should be only be paying £565 (exchange rate conversion) for the iPhone 11 not £729! Rip off Britain at it's best! Can’t wait for the 12. Gonna have 47 cameras

Europe looks on with dismay as Brexit disarray deepensEuropean governments look on helplessly as Brexit chaos deepens Well. The disruption we hope is on their own this time.



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