Democracy and Political Participation

Democracy and Political Participation


Democracy and Political Participation

23-24 June 2012

Place: Cezayir Meeting Hall

Hayriye Caddesi 12, Galatasaray, Beyoğlu-İstanbul

Instead of progress, regression or halt democracy is at stake in many countries according to the evaluations of research centers conducting studies on democracy as the Democracy Index and Freedom House. Gradual exclusion of people from decision-making mechanisms; withdrawal from participation in conventional political organizations or democratic mechanisms as elections; decline in trust towards politics in general or political parties are among the indicators of that relapse in democracy. In this conference, we aspire to analyze various aspects of the relationship between democracy and political participation and methods applied to promote it.

Methods of direct democracy such as referendum are applied in many countries –either at local or national level- in order to enhance direct participation in democracy. In terms of democracy, are direct participation instruments such as referendum successful instruments or what kinds of risks do they implicate? The relationship between the central administration and regional, local politics is considered a major factor with a view to the current status and the strengthening of democracy and participation in politics. What does the European Charter of Local Self-Government envisage in this regard? How is the European Charter of Local Self-Government interpreted in Turkey by various actors?

Practices regulating participation in local decision-making mechanisms are also significant for democracy and political participation. Many different methods are tested both in Europe and Turkey to advance participation at local level (Local agenda 21, city councils and human rights organizations at local level). Active local participation might be beaconed by interrogating the success of such organizations in having an impact on politics.

Abatement in participation to elections, party membership and political life shall be seriously investigated in terms of democracy and political participation. Are non-governmental organizations and citizen movements regarded as alternatives to classical political organizations? In what terms has the role of classical organizations as political parties changed and what kind of questions does this shift pose? How can we evaluate the relationship and interaction among non-governmental organizations, citizen movements and political parties? How can we establish a relationship between non-governmental organizations and political parties that would serve the needs of both?

The position and role of young people in politics shall likewise be discussed in a country like Turkey where the majority of the population is composed by young people. What is the interest of young people in politics? What are their places and areas of action? How can we evaluate the participation of young population in politics? Are they, in the wake of

Arabian Spring, abstaining from opportunities offered by traditional parliamentarian system in shifting from classical political organizations to opportunities offered by social media and internet? What methods have the classical organizations adopted against this new phenomenon? What steps are taken to attract the attention of young people? How do classical organizations make use of internet and social media? As an example, having a close look at how and by whom the internet site of the parliament for the preparation of the new constitution is used might provide us with valuable information about the impact and the participation of young people in politics.  

In our two-days international conference entitled Democracy and Political Participation we hope to contribute strengthening democracy in today’s world in discussing the causes of and solutions to the halt and partial regression in democracy.

With respect,

Turkey Representation of Heinrich Böll Stiftung e.V.

June 23rd 2012, Saturday 

09.00               Registration

09.15 -09.30    Opening Remarks, Ulrike Dufner, Heinrich Böll Foundation

09.30-10.00     Keynote Speaker, Wolfgang Merkel, Social Science Research  
                        Center Berlin

10.00-12.30     First Panel: Discussions on Democracy in Turkey and the World     

The Regression of Democracy and Global Problems

Susan Corke, Freedom House

The Problems of Democracy in Turkey

Fuat Keyman, Sabancı University

A View from Outside on Turkey’s Democracy

Claude Weinber, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Brussels

Moderator:    Bekir Ağırdır, Konda Research and Consultancy

12.30-13.30         Break

13.30-16.00     Second Panel: Direct Democracy and Participation                                            

Referendum as a Tool for Direct Democracy: Research Conducted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey

Ahmet Yıldız, TBMM

Could Referendum increase Political Participation?

Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Sabancı University


Improving Political Participation through Direct Democracy

Ilker Gökhan Şen, Anadolu University

Moderator:    Ulrike Dufner, Heinrich Böll Foundation

16.00-16.15         Coffee Break

16.15-18.45    Third Panel: Does Centralization Pose a Problem for Political Participation?

Centralization – Federalism and Participation

Oktay Uygun, Maltepe University

Local and Regional Democracy

Harald Baldersheim, University of Oslo

Strengthening Local Democracy Through Participation

Fikret Toksöz, TESEV

Moderator:  Banu Güven, Journalist

June 24th 2012, Sunday

10.00-12.00     Fourth Panel: Citizens’ Movements, Civil Society and Participation

Role of the Citizens in Shaping Democracy

Anna Wohlfarth, Bertelsmann Foundation

Citizens’ Networks

Feray Salman, Human Rights Joint Platform

Civil Society, Political Parties and Participation

Dirk Jörke, Greifswald University

Moderator:    Coşkun Üsterci, Human Rights Foundation

12.00-13.00     Break

13.00-15.00     Fifth Panel: Youth, Social Media and Participation

New Media as an Opportunity for Political Participation

Falk Lüke,  Digitale Gesellschaft eV.

Turkey’s Youth and Their Political Participation

Nur Kırmızıdağ, SETA Foundation

Youth, Social Media and Political Participation in Turkey

Esra Arsan, Bilgi University   

Moderator:    Yonca Verdioğlu, Heinrich Böll Foundation

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