Strengthening Democracy: 7 Things You Can Do Right Now

It’s up to all of us! Here are seven concrete things we can do to take action for democracy—compiled by the Democracy Team at the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Regina Mennig
Doro Spiro
February 08, 2024

Have conversations with differently-minded people


On social media, you might be able to simply stay comfortable in your own “filter bubble.” But among your relatives, in your neighborhood, or in everyday life, there is no algorithm that sorts the world into groups of like-minded people. Even if it’s challenging, grappling with the opinions of people who think very differently than you do is part of living in a pluralistic, democratic society. If you are actively looking for this kind of challenge, you can take part in demoSlam, a project we support: demoSlam brings together people whose positions on issues are as different as possible, guides and trains them in discussions of controversial subjects—and works to counteract entrenched fronts. 


Take action against hate and harassment—both analogue and digital


Don’t be silent—don’t keep walking or scrolling by when you witness hostility toward others, when people use right-wing slogans, or when discussions are laced with false information. Take a clear stand in these situations, whether they occur in your daily social environment or on the internet—today this is more important than ever. “The more time people spend in digital environments, the more hate speech and harassment have flourished there,” says Hanna Gleiß of das NETTZ, the anti-hate networking platform that we support. She says that every voice that counteracts this behavior is needed in order to reverse the shift in discourse toward the right that has taken place in Germany. “And also, to demonstrate solidarity with the victims of hate speech.”

Looking for tips on how to respond to hate speech and right-wing propaganda? Have you been affected by hate speech yourself and need help? Or do you want to know what to do when you encounter illegal content? Then das NETTZ is a good point of contact, since it bundles the knowledge and experience of anti-hate speech initiatives throughout Germany. You can also find information and concrete tips at the Kompetenznetzwerk gegen Hass im Netz (Expertise Network against Online Hate), of which das NETTZ is also a member.


Standing up for democracy in the workplace


We spend a large portion of our time at our places of work. That’s reason enough to make room for democracy here, as well. You can advocate for codetermination in the workplace; in a larger company, for example, you might run for a seat on the workers’ council. You can also take a clear stand on issues in your work environment: for diversity, or against xenophobia, hate speech, or fake news. Through the Business Council for Democracy, we at the Robert Bosch Stiftung are supporting a project that brings information about conspiracy theories, disinformation, and hate speech directly to the workplace. The participating companies offer training sessions for their employees on these topics. This type of connection between civil society and business makes it possible to experience political culture, even in the workplace.


Bring democracy into your everyday life


Democracy doesn’t only take place in parliaments, committees, and boards. Ideally, democracy is also present wherever each individual spends time in their day-to-day life—and wherever people gather together. With our Projekt Allzeitorte (Everyday Spaces project), we aim to build bridges to democracy in everyday life: We support those operating and maintaining a wide variety of spaces and initiatives—along with stakeholders in civic and sociocultural education—to start small-scale democracy projects. These Everyday Spaces for democracy projects might include soccer clubs, parents’ groups, your favorite pub on the corner, and many more. “It is this mosaic that we need—as many people involved as possible, preferably everywhere, ideally long-term. Those who contribute can realize that their voices count, that their opinions will be heard, and that we all have a degree of influence,”  says Antje Scheidler, head of our Democracy Team.


Get involved in a citizens’ initiative or politically active organization


For some people this might be the first step toward becoming political: joining a citizens’ initiative. It doesn’t require a party membership or even a strict organizational structure—and you can often experience the efficacy of your own involvement very directly. The German Federal Agency for Political Education emphasizes the fact that citizens’ initiatives in Germany are quite successful: “Up to 60 percent of participants report having realized their goals—or at least achieving significant partial successes.” The chances of success are highest, the agency says, when initiatives—particularly at the municipal level—pursue aims that are achievable in the near term as well as concrete individual goals. Participation in an organization that is devoted to political causes and engages in lobbying also increases people’s awareness of how they can help shape democratic processes.  


Run for political office or get involved in a political party


Why should we always let “other people” do the work? Anyone can run for a political office—you don’t have to start out by pursuing a seat in parliament. Committed elected representatives are needed at every level—for example, on a town council. This gives you the opportunity to directly shape your own living environment. Local branches of political parties also take up important issues in their municipalities and offer individuals the opportunity to participate and take politics into their own hands. Have you ever flirted with the idea of getting involved in this way? Now would be a good time to get active!


Take part in elections—there are several coming up in 2024!


Article 20, paragraph 2 of the German constitution states that “All public authority emanates from the people.” In order for this statement to be optimally fulfilled, all eligible voters should exercise their rights. European elections are scheduled to take place in 2024: here, for the first time, young people will be eligible to vote from the age of 16. Municipal elections are also taking place, and in addition, there are state elections in Thuringia, Saxony, and Brandenburg. Let’s all cast our ballots! Let’s motivate potential non-voters to go to the polls, too! And by the way, volunteering as an election worker is another way to encourage voting as an important element of democracy.  

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