3rd Feb 2023


Unhack Democracy Conference

  • The trend away from democracy in Europe, and towards hybrid-regimes that openly challenge the rule of law, makes the need to defend the institutions and processes that safeguard democracy more important than ever (Photo: Unhack Democracy)
Listen to article

Elections are the bedrock of democracy. Yet threats to electoral integrity extend far beyond the ballot box, from political financing to state capture of democratic institutions and media to disinformation.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine shows what happens when authoritarianism and democratic decline is allowed to grow unchecked.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

This trend away from democracy in Europe, and towards hybrid-regimes that openly challenge the rule of law, makes the need to defend the institutions and processes that safeguard democracy more important than ever.

Yet while responsibility for solving these problems is most often sought at a government or even transnational level, in many cases it is domestic grassroots organisations, driven by the need to adapt to address specific problems quickly, that are most effective at developing innovative solutions to counter instances of democratic rollback.

That is why we are hosting the inaugural Unhack Democracy Conference 2022, in partnership with Romanian NGO Funky Citizens, to bring together a New Generation of activists, civil society, election watchdog and pro-democracy groups with diplomats, academics, journalists and politicians focused on defending electoral integrity in the Black Sea Region, Belarus, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

By re-framing the conversation around the role of democracy, identifying cross-border trends and sharing innovative best practice solutions, we hope to provide a platform to safeguard electoral integrity and strengthen democracy through civic engagement across the region.

Defend democracy and it will defend you

Available to watch live online at EUobserver between 9.30am and 12.30 CET on Tuesday (21 June), the conference will open with a keynote address by Olga Aivazovska, head of the Ukrainian Civil Network OPORA, arguing the vital importance of democracy security.

This will be followed by a discussion on the emergence of so-called 'hybrid regimes' as the prevailing form of governance in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Speakers will analyse the deadly consequences of this trend towards authoritarianism in the region — playing out in Ukraine today — and how civil society can work to reverse electoral and institutional engineering and rebuild trust in democratic institutions.

The second panel on defining and defending democracy in the digital age will explore what the rise of digital platforms in the political sphere and a new generation of tech-savvy political actors mean for 'democracy' and what civil society is doing to counter disinformation, improve transparency around the financing of online campaigns and political advertising, and help election management bodies move with the times.

The afternoon's sessions, including a dedicated panel on innovative citizen engagement strategies developed by Belarusian civil society, rethinking election observation in the EU and how to make democracy sexy again will be available to watch live on Unhack Democracy's channels.

Author bio

Elliott Goat is a co-founder and director of Unhack Democracy.


This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

Democracy dies in darkness

As the Washington Post's header always reads "Democracy Dies in Darkness". The biggest threat to a dictator like Vladimir Putin is an informed populace. Let us do everything we can to make that threat loom larger.


Where could democracy rebound in 2022?

In Hungary, Fidesz has barricaded itself behind a thick net of legal rules and captured institutions. If there are controversies about the April's election result, we may have a full-blown crisis in the middle of the EU.

German foreign policy: between hesitancy and transparency

The Berlin Forum showed for a successful German foreign and defence policy, Berlin needs to make some difficult decisions on what price they are ready to pay for peace, and also learn how to communicate and execute those decisions.

Over-ambitious packaging reuse targets mustn't kill off recycling

Beverage sectors are concerned the European Commission's new proposal on packaging legislation will be misguided in focusing their sectors almost exclusively on reusable packaging to the detriment of recycling schemes, rather than taking a holistic approach combining both.

EU, wake up! Don't leave West Balkans to Russia or China

Russia's attack on Ukraine and European values must remind us how important the enlargement process is, if properly conducted, as a motor for democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and prosperity, write six S&D MEPs.

Dialogue and action – Nordic cooperation and view on COP26

Nordic countries launched several initiatives at the COP26 climate conference which will have a real impact on the ground. Nordic and UK pension funds are to invest billions in clean energy and climate initiatives. Greenland has joined the Paris Agreement.

Latest News

  1. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  2. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  3. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  4. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  5. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU
  6. EU green industry plan could spark 'dangerous subsidy race'
  7. Wolves should be defended, EU ministers urge
  8. EU Commission wants drones for Bulgaria on Turkey border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us