Political events over the course of the past year have drawn attention to how the foundations of democracy are currently being affected by distrust in political institutions and political actors. The rise of populism has made significant electoral inroads and has heavily influenced political debates. At the same time, more reflection is needed on the factors – cultural, political, economic, social etc. – which may undermine the ability of democratic institutions to deliver on promises and, by extension, their legitimacy among citizens, and on the lessons we need to take from past crises of democratic systems. In this context, it is crucial to discuss citizens’ perceptions on democracy, and how they exercise their citizenship.
Nevertheless, Berlin historian Michael Wildt expects "substantial new information" to emerge from the file rooms of government agencies. Wildt is convinced that it will become clear that all government institutions, provided they existed at the time, were involved "in the mass crimes of the Nazis." And the institutions that were newly formed under the postwar constitution, namely the police and the intelligence services, were largely staffed with civil servants from the old, criminal organizations. Ministries and government agencies have "covered up, denied and repressed" their dark history, says Wildt.
This media war has yet to produce an effective opposition, an antiwar movement or cultural resistance that can challenge its trajectory and impact. Such a movement, however, is bubbling up from below, with parents calling for a more informative way of rating TV shows to safeguard their children, teachers promoting media literacy, activists asking for corporate accountability, consumers demanding enforcement of antitrust laws, media watchers critiquing news coverage, critics seeking more meaningful program content, producers creating alternative work and independent producers like me agitating for better and fairer journalism.