Beneath unconstructive and divisive emotions that are widespread in our communities, there is still a will to reimagine and dream: citizens urge for a better society in which voices are heard, and problems answered with concrete actions.
As part of a European project, the Future4Citizens programme aims to respond to the lack of dialogue between citizenship and policymaking institutions by providing sound solutions to enable the transition to a more inclusive, transparent, and trustful Deliberative Democracy in Europe.
The cycle of distrust
Real Problems –> Inequality is a multidimensional phenomenon of our time, with deep roots in globalisation, climate change, migration and economic development. It is the structural factor that correlates with societal discontent.
Negative Emotions –> Emotions and feelings determine how we act and react to reality. With the latest challenging developments, citizens have undergone a significant change of perspectives, with their concerns abruptly touched, stimulating strong feelings of fear, anger, insecurity, and humiliation, affecting human thinking and influencing human action.
Crisis of Trust –> Trust is the glue that holds societies together and is the basis for collective action (OECD). According to Professor Manuel Castells, disaffection and a crisis of trust are some words that lie at “the basis of today’s difficult situation”. It has been evident that the past crises have underlined the vulnerabilities of our model and considerably damaged the outlook of the European dream, challenging how we think about and organise our societies.
Protest Movements –> Civic unrest is a growing global issue: people express their discontent and urge for a transformational change. Distrust in governments proves that people do not believe that the institutions in place operate in their interests.
Exacerbated by Media –> Shared reliable information is the basis of democracy. The way social media favour extreme and negative positions, exacerbating the polarisation of conversations, has detrimental effects on democracy.
Increased Polarisation –> Growing polarisation in the public sphere is causing severe damage to our democratic institutions in all countries. For the first time in history, there is a real risk of destructive political forces on both ends of the extremes taking over. We need to understand the causes of polarisation, rethink democracy in the era of digitalisation, and move away from ideological debate toward solutions-orientated conversations.
Societal Fragmentation –> In this highly polarised and divided context, it is extremely difficult for societies to agree upon the main challenges they face (OECD). We lack social cohesion and diversity of opinions, which is, in fact, the essential element of democracy.
Political Stalemate –> In front of such radicalisation of positions, policymakers are not able to offer long-term visions and advance resolutive policies that address the real problems of our times.