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Manili Thinktank

Why protesting against the far-right isn't enough

If you want to stop extreme parties, you have to do more than just waving flags. Social involvement is required.

Guest Article by Philipp Saueracker


Taking to the streets and protesting against the rise of parties that we consider a threat to democracy and society (as happened in the recent months in Germany for instance) is a good and important step to show that there is a silent majority standing up.

A Sea of Lights: 100,000 to 300,000 people gathered in Munich on February 11, 2024 to protest against the AfD

A Sea of Lights

100,000 to 300,000 people gathered in Munich on February 11, 2024 to protest against the AfD (Germany's extrem-right party).


Protesting is an important right and freedom we have. But it is by far not enough.

We have free elections and should all be aware of the potential consequences of our vote. Democracy dies without our (critical) thinking. But what if there are no convincing parties? At this point let’s take a step back and remember what democracy and society is about.

As citizens, we enjoy freedom and have power. We exercise the latter not only through elections, but also through our commitment to society. It is essentially the responsibility and contribution of each and every one of us to keep our democracy and society dynamic and vibrant.

If we are unsatisfied, we are free to join a political party.

Our politicians are citizens themselves, they wanted to make a change in society and thus chose to do (a part of) their “career” in politics. Commitment can thus be exercised through a political party. If we are unsatisfied with anything in politics and society, we are free to join a party and run for candidate to offer a new approach. Or free to found a new party to diversify the political offer.

Of course the conditions and procedures to do so differ from Member State to Member State and there are more or less obstacles, but it is not forbidden and free elections enable any possible success, even for smaller parties (e.g. VOLT).

However, we can also get involved in society through an association or other initiatives/voluntary activities, stand up for our interests and, for example, sensitise our fellow citizens if we see a threat to democracy, freedom and society.

Talking to each other instead of talking about each other.

This is the only way to develop a better understanding of each other’s needs, problems, fears, and way of thinking. Hence, democracy also means finding compromise and not achieving the maximum of what we would wish for. 

So, where is the problem? Ah yes, commitment is work.

It requires some efforts and time. Nothing moves if we don’t move. Before blaming politicians, we should ask ourselves if we are doing enough. 

In addition, globalisation, the digitalisation of our society through social media and thus the rapid spread of (fake) news and other facts or messages (e.g. hate speech) that polarise society pose a major threat to democracy.

Therefore, before disseminating information of any kind, everyone should think about what they are doing, what it means or could mean and whether the content is true and does not violate the rights and freedoms of others.

Hence, dear fellow citizens, be critical, be brave, think ahead, talk to each other and become active, because democracy is us!


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