10th Jun 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)
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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.

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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.

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