21st Sep 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.

Managing climate disasters from space

EU space technology is increasingly becoming an essential cog in the machinery that manages responses to emergencies like floods and fires — from providing information to firefighters to alerting citizens of danger.

US senators, MEPs call to keep fossil-fuel lobbyists out of COP28

We, the undersigned members of the US Congress and the European Parliament, address this letter to the president of the United States, the president of the European Commission, the secretary-general of the UN, and the executive secretary of the UNFCCC.

Latest News

  1. Report: Tax richest 0.5%, raise €213bn for EU coffers
  2. EU aid for Africa risks violating spending rules, Oxfam says
  3. Activists push €40bn fossil subsidies into Dutch-election spotlight
  4. Europe must Trump-proof its Ukraine arms supplies
  5. Antifascism and fascism are opposites, whatever elites say
  6. MEPs back Germany's Buch to lead ECB supervisory arm
  7. Russia to blame for Azerbaijan attack, EU says
  8. Fresh dispute may delay EU-wide migration reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us