Between Ambition and Disarray – The Future of Democracy

Thursday, 14 September 2022, Orangery Sanssouci, Potsdam/Germany

The multiple crises of the past years pose considerable challenges and stress tests to society, politics and democracy. With the long-term effects of the war in Ukraine and climate change – financial crises, energy shortages, social inequality, famine and the destruction of entire habitats – the political and social challenges are once again reaching a new dimension.
In these times, authoritarian states seem to be gaining momentum: For the first time since 2004, there are more autocratically than democratically governed states worldwide in 2022, and this despite the fact that states with democratic deficits perform significantly worse than stable democracies in the fight against the pandemic.

At the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of democracy and the influence of the media under the following aspects:
• Causes of democracy fatigue and the weakness of democratic order.
• Why democracies, despite their clear superiority in coping with crises, find it so difficult to exploit this advantage for themselves.
• Why the largest democratic association in the world – the EU – does not succeed in appearing united and strong to the outside world – and how this could be changed.
• How the mediation of political decisions between society and state at national and transnational – European and transatlantic – level can be better achieved.
• Where our media infrastructures are heading in times of global platforms (Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc.), what consequences this has for the democratic public sphere and what leeway politicians have to shape it.
• How politics and journalism (keyword: constructive journalism) must change in order to strengthen democracy and make its strengths more visible.

The conference pursues the following goals:
• Open, interdisciplinary and – through the participation of participants of the M100 Young European Journalists Workshop (20 – 30 years old) – intergenerational dialogue between media professionals, politicians and academics.
• Change of perspective through dialogue between Eastern and Western Europeans as well as Europeans and US-Americans.
• USP arises from the combination of high topicality (incl. the flexibility to respond to current developments at any time) and the thematisation of the economic, technological and socio-structural dimension (long-term orientation).
• Focus on forward-looking, solution-oriented impulses from international experts.
• Social agenda setting and raising awareness of the importance of and challenges to democracy, freedom of the press and freedom of opinion through multiplier effects and intensive press work.
• Developing concrete and practical recommendations for action to promote resilience and the future viability of democracy and, in particular, the contribution of journalistic media (“M100 Declaration”) for decision-makers in politics and the media and feeding them into the political arena.

The aim of the 19th M100 Sanssouci Colloquium is a constructive, intersectoral conversation between representatives from politics, media and academia from across Europe and beyond to discuss the state of democracy in times of war and geopolitical tension, strategies for strengthening democratic resilience and the future of journalistic media in times of ChatGPT and disinformation.

To allow us to react to current events, we reserve the right to amend the programme.