Democracy Defence Dialogues were organised in response to the concerns over the state of democracy arising from Russia’s war of aggression. The ruthless attack on Ukraine made many people realise that democracy should not be taken for granted. It needs to be supported every day and reformed continuously. That is an effort that everyone in society should participate in.
In April and June 2022, Democracy Defence Dialogues were hosted by a total of 62 discussion organisers, ranging from municipalities to NGOs and from civic activists to business enterprises. Over 500 people participated in the 71 discussions. The dialogues were organised across Finland and abroad, both face-to-face and remotely.
The discussions highlighted the fact that democracy has a wide range of content in people’s daily lives. It is connected to feelings of security and freedom, the experience of participation and engagement, and various ways of exercising influence. In the dialogues, democracy was discussed from various perspectives, ranging from personal experiences to the big political issues of our time. The dialogues showed that practically any individual or community can find links between their own activities and the strengthening of democratic society. The participants talked about what democracy means to them personally, how it is realised in the daily life of different kinds of people, what are the threats to democracy, and what people can do together to defend democracy locally, nationally and globally.
The value of democracy and free civil society is especially relevant in times of crisis. The Democracy Defence Dialogues can be seen as part of national resilience in circumstances where a global pandemic was followed by a major security crisis. The dialogues provided people with opportunities to get together to constructively discuss their experiences and views on democracy. Gathering together, listening to others and reflecting on issues deeply are all part of the democratic way of life. Above all, the dialogues produced valuable experience based knowledge on how people across Finland, and elsewhere around the world, are attached to democracy and what their views are with regard to the current state of democracy.
Democratic society is a living and developing entity. The more comprehensively we can engage different kinds of people and a plurality of voices in the discussion, the better we are equipped to defend democracy today and in the future.