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Pathways to a Democracy Able to Learn: the Role of Government Organizations


At the workshop "Pathways to a 'Learning Democracy'," Johannes Bohnen highlighted in a keynote speech the role of government organizations in particular. The event was hosted by the Progressive Center in cooperation with Procedere and Democracy International on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the Basic Law on 05/23/17.

Bohnen reported from his own experience that cross-sectoral or interministerial cooperation at the federal level is a major challenge. It is therefore recommended that particularly important cross-sectoral issues such as democracy or engagement policy be located at the highest possible level, such as the Chancellery, and coordinated centrally there. The refugee situation illustrates this: while the Chancellor's Office took over the overarching control, the individual departments under the operational leadership of the Ministry of the Interior were given responsibility for subject-specific tasks. These ranged from financial resources for refugee aid (Ministry of Finance) to integration into the labor market (Ministry of Labor) to combating the causes of migration (Foreign Office, Ministry of Development).

Democracies would also do well to consult private-sector consultants to benefit from their process knowledge and tools. Examples here include strategies for e-government or broadband expansion. According to Bohnen, however, the problem remains that the public sector, unlike the private sector, does not know any "heroes" - it is not attractive. In the end, administrative topics are "cold projects" that do not produce utopian aspirations. Ultimately, therefore, Bohnen argues that emotions should not be forgotten to give politics and administration a positive change. New NGOs such as Apolitical would already do great work here by creating not only a worldwide network but also a media platform for effective forms of government.


Afterward, small groups drafted initial proposals on how the different branches of our democracy could evolve. These thought-provoking ideas show that democracy is a living project and that we should continually give new creative impulses.


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