Traffic light presents draft law: Democracy Promotion Act becomes concrete
It is an important traffic light project: Faeser and Paus present a draft law for the Democracy Promotion Act. Associations, however, criticize.
BERLIN taz | It is a long-fought projectnow it is about to be implemented: Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) and Federal Minister for Family Affairs Lisa Paus (Greens) have drafted a Democracy Promotion Act submitted. This is intended to secure projects against extremism in the long term. So far, the financing has only been for a few years.
The draft law, which the taz has received, contains for the first time a statutory mandate from the federal government to promote civil society engagement against extremism. On this basis, the federal government should be able to finance long-term democracy projects such as dropout, education or empowerment programs.
So far, the democracy projects have only ever been financed for one funding period, are then on the brink of extinction and have to apply with a new concept. However, the draft law now emphasizes that the fight against extremism is “a long-term task of central political importance for society as a whole”. In particular, right-wing extremist crimes and acts of violence have “kept increasing“. Peaceful coexistence in the country is thus “damaged in an alarming way”. The federal government is responsible here, since the anti-democratic phenomena are “not limited to a local or regional level”, “so that the answer to them must also be supra-regional”.
200 million euros for democracy promotion
With the new law, the democracy projects should now be “reliably supported” and receive “sustainable protection” – with an “urgently needed improvement of the legal framework”. In the future, projects with “supra-regional importance” would be funded by the federal government. The federal government will also carry out its own measures. All of this is to receive “appropriate funding”, which, however, is not quantified in more detail. Currently, the federal budget for the year 2023 and the responsible programs “live democracy‘ and ‘People Strengthen People’ planned a total of 200 million euros.
For a long time it was disputed whether there should be an “extremism clause” in the law. Here it now says that the project sponsors must “respect the goals of the Basic Law and ensure appropriate work when implementing the funded measures” as the funding requirements. How exactly this will be ensured remains open for the time being.
The struggle for a democracy promotion law has been going on for years. The NSU investigative committee in the Bundestag called for such a law back in 2013, and civil society initiatives followed suit. The grand coalition finally wanted to introduce the law – it ultimately failed because of the Union. In February, Faeser and then Minister for Family Affairs Anne Spiegel (Greens) a new concept for that.
Finally, initiatives and researchers should contribute their ideas on the law. The draft law is now available. However, it still has to be finalized in the traffic light.
Faeser had recently confirmed that the law would “strengthen democracy from within” and that he wanted to “finally promote the federal government reliably and comprehensively” for active projects. “We want to win back citizens who began to doubt democracy during the pandemic.” The commitment of the projects is “the best protection against extremism and attacks on political institutions, free science and independent Media,” says Faeser.
Also family minister break stressed: “Democracy is not something that can be taken for granted”. She was “convinced that social cohesion makes us resilient to crises”. This is why even stronger support for democracy projects is so important.
“Abstract law that should change little”
In civil society initiatives, however, criticism of the concrete implementation of the Democracy Promotion Act by Faeser and Paus had recently been voiced. “What gets out of politics is sobering,” said the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. “An abstract law is planned that should not change much for the projects.”
The Federal Association of Mobile Counseling also demanded that the law must “bindingly stipulate” the participation of civil society – for example with an independent advisory board that accompanies the implementation of the law and funding guidelines. Concrete goals are also needed, such as a minimum amount for funding. Because this has not been done so far, several civil society organizations want to present their own draft for a democracy promotion law on Tuesday.