A governmental attempt to restrict women’s rights in 2020, a proposed tax reform in 2021 that can shrink the space for independent media, and governmental efforts to curtail the judiciary’s independence marked an eventful period for civil society organisations in Poland. Amidst all developments, Polish civil society has learnt that united actions have more impact than individual attempts to counter the worrying trends.
Grantees in the spotlight
For Civitates’ partners from PressOne, an independent journalist organisation based in Romania, public-interest journalism is “a powerful way to make people understand the reality that surrounds them and a powerful tool of change” as Adrian Mihaltianu, PressOne’s managing director, shared.
BIRN, together with SHARE foundation, has been monitoring how digital rights violations in Central and South-Eastern Europe are impacting democracy and human rights even before the pandemic changed people’s lives. With the pandemic, however, they saw a tremendous growth of rights violations linked to Covid-19.
By working together, members of the coalition led by VoxPublic unite strengths and expertise to promote and defend the rights of civil society actors and to provide response strategies to the growing repression experienced by associations.
Democracy Reporting International (DRI) recently launched a user-friendly concept for a web-based toolkit to monitor social media during elections. As the phenomenon of social media influencing the political arena is something known only for about 5 years, little knowledge existed about the impact on democracy.
The government campaign against civil organisations in the last few years has caused major damage to the sector in Hungary. The local initiatives in cities and towns across the country have withdrawn and are focusing on rather apolitical activities. Stigmatised CSO’s, especially in pro-governmental cities are isolated from public or civic co-operations.
NOSZA coordinates a coalition of five NGOs in Hungary, working on diverse topics to strengthen civic space. The coalition does so by demonstrating the professionality of civil sector actors that work on improving the lives of people who are most in need. This is achieved, even in lack of funding and in over-politicised atmospheres, via cooperation. With support from Civitates, the coalition members provide multi-sector services, raise public and stakeholder awareness across the country and learn from each other.
The environment for non-governmental organisations and journalists in Slovenia has become increasingly hostile and restrictive since the new government led by Janez Janša took office in March 2020. We constantly see the lack of understanding of the watchdog role of civil society and journalists across the political spectrum.
The European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) facilitates collective action aimed to strengthen EU action and reinforce democracy within EU countries through regulating the digital public sphere in ways that are conducive to democratic principles and practices.