The Future of Democracy


Democracy is in peril across the world. In times of crisis, strengthening and defending democracy is one of the most vital tasks for politics, society and the media. But how can the media help to strengthen democracy? What can it do about the loss of public trust? And how can it combat the influence of disinformation? Our partnership with the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium is intended to get to the bottom of these and other questions.

Under the title ‘Between Ambition and Disarray: The Future of Democracy’, the high-level symposium addresses media professionals, NGOs, and democratic reformers from politics as well as - with a public section - the interested public.

The Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft is co-host and strategic partner of the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium. In this sense, we are curating a Strategic Roundtable and co-hosting the M100 Media Forum in Georgia.

M100 MEDIA FORUM Tbilisi

The two-day M100 Media Forum in Tbilisi from June 22 to June 23 contributes to the further internationalisation of the media conference beyond the symposium in Potsdam. As an independent format, its line-up and programme take account of its special venue.

Tbilisi is the capital of a young, emerging democracy that is under enormous strain. Russia has not only threatened Georgian national security ever since the 2008 invasion, but the country that the ZEIT once described as ‘a beacon of hope’ is riven by internal tensions. The fledgling democracy is anything but secure. Nevertheless, Georgia is a country at the crossroads, with an impressively vibrant civil society and committed journalists. In our Strategic Roundtable, we want to focus on how change can be affected:

Strategic Roundtable
Strengthening Democracy: The Role of Civil Society and Independent Media

Independent journalism is threatened in Georgia. The media landscape lacks on pluralism and is mostly owned by the government or is in the control of a few wealthy individuals. So called ‚information wars’ on the power over interpretation results in disorientation and distrust. Moreover, independent journalism and critical coverage is compromised by censorism. However, free coverage and transparency are crucial for a functional democracy and critical public sphere. So how can change be affected when the public sphere is jeopardized? On the one hand, foreign news coverage can become relevant to give topics publicity and create external pressure. On the other hand, social media and local media initiatives can manufacture a counter public sphere to increase pressure from the inside and encourage an active civil society. The roundtable aims to discuss the role of foreign news coverage as well as the role of a strong civil society to affect change. The Roundtable discusses, among other things, the interaction between local media initiatives and a strong civil society as well as the role of foreign news coverage for supporting democracy.

  • Input: Ana Kakalashvili (Consultant|Expert, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Tbilisi)
  • Moderation: Antonia Marx (Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft)

The first part of the M100 Media Forum will take place as a sequence of three exclusive Strategic Roundtables. The second part is open to public with a panel discussion on ‘Democratic Resilience in an Age of Uncertainty’ with Gigi Gigiadze (Senior Fellow EPRC, Tbilisi), Robin Forestier-Walker (British Journalist for Al-Jazeera, Tbilisi), Tamar Kintsurashvili (Executive Director at Media Development Foundation Ge), Götz Hamann (Editorial Manager Digital Editions, Die Zeit, Germany).

The ideas and insights from Georgia will feed into the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium at September, 14 in Potsdam, where they will be developed by the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft’s strategic working group.

Please feel free to contact Antonia Marx with any enquiries.