Democracy as a crucial anti-virus

Published: 18 June 2020

Image by Ulas Eryavuz, Spring of Hope

At Civitates we work for a strong and resilient civil society, a healthy online public discourse and independent journalism. All three are essential ingredients for the recipe that will help us emerge from this crisis in the best shape possible.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the importance of solidarity, resilience and community dialogue to overcome major crises. Governments’ reactions to the pandemic have accelerated all sorts of major economic, political, and social problems. This shows that citizens’ political, medical and economic choices must be informed by debates in which all voices are heard. This makes citizens’ awareness, civic participation, trustworthy information, and transparent institutions even more essential to ensure the public good.

A strong and resilient civil society is like a tool we can use to navigate through the pandemic. Both formal associations and more informal movements help us make sure that governments are taking decisions that consider all of us. They allow us to join our voices together and make ourselves heard so we can speak regularly to our elected representatives and ensure they provide the appropriate support and care to everyone.

A healthy digital public sphere ensures that people can voice their concerns, form opinions, and provide input for decision making processes.  In such unprecedent times, technology has allowed us to stay connected to our loved ones and keep our important work going.  While our dependence on these methods of communication and tools has grown, so has the importance of building a healthy and safe digital public sphere, where democracy and fundamental rights are upheld.

Independent, public interest journalism keeps us informed with critical information about the pandemic and government responses to the crisis. Moreover, it helps us ensure that our governments are doing everything to protect us, and to use our public resources for the benefit of society at large – whether that is investing enough in protective equipment for doctors and nurses or giving financial help to people who have lost their jobs. We rely on journalists to ask the right questions, point out where mistakes have been made or highlight which policies have been effective.

All three ‘ingredients’ help ensure that all voices are heard and keep politicians and companies alike on their toes. After all, politicians and corporations are much more likely to do what is best for the public when they know that people are watching them.