Through interactivity to greater youth political participation: Gong joins the MANTA project!
MANTA (Mini-publics and other new forms of participation - in civic education) is a newly created consortium that connects organizations from Austria, Germany and Croatia, including Gong. By combining practical, scientific and didactic-methodical expertise, together with our partners we provide support to teachers through the preparation of educational materials. We do this with the aim of educating students to become responsible and active citizens in representative democracy, in order to ensure that important environmental, political, social and economic problems can be adequately solved.
Namely, although it is said that young people are not interested in politics, many teenagers and young adults in Europe show the opposite through their actions. Across Europe, they are taking to the streets - examples include support for a liberal abortion law in Poland, the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in Hungary, and participation in climate protection protests.
They do all this without connecting with associations, parties and unions, indicating that these actors, although representing important ones in a democratic state, are not that attractive to young people. This is precisely why a question arises: what measures can help young people to regain confidence in representative democracy and to become more engaged at the institutional level?
We find the solution in participatory instruments such as "mini-publics". So far, few people know about these instruments, and equally unknown are the encouraging experiences of citizens in Ireland who participated in citizen assemblies in order to make recommendations for the new Irish constitution. 66 randomly selected citizens and 33 politicians met over several weekends to discuss, for example, the introduction of marriage for all. It was a very emotional issue that polarized the population. Until now, there have been three models of mini-publics at the national level in Germany; in Austria, the second mini-public will start at the end of 2021; at the federal state level, Vorarlberg has many years of experience with mini-publics.
By providing educational materials to teachers in order to facilitate the introduction of students to models of mini-publics and the implementation of interactive exercises and tasks, we strive to motivate young people in the long term to familiarize themselves with political institutions and processes, develop civic competences and critical attitudes, and ultimately become more active citizens.
In addition to Gong, the project partners include Verein Mehr Demokratie and Institut für Didaktik der Demokratie; Leibniz University Hanover, from Germany, Gymnazija Pula, Institute for Conflict Research and Volksschule St. Andrä-Höch, from Austria, with the project coordinator being Demokratiezentrum Vienna, from Austria.