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Partnerships for Democracy

What is a local "Partnership for Democracy"?

The federal programme supports local and municipal authorities (towns, municipalities and rural districts) throughout Germany in developing "partnerships for democracy" as structurally based local or regional alliances.

These "partnerships for democracy" bring together decision-makers from local politics and administration and people active in all aspects of civil society, from associations and clubs through churches to citizens' groups. Starting from local conditions and problems on the ground, they jointly develop a strategy tailored to addressing the specific situation at hand.

For the federal programme "Live Democracy!", 300 local authorities were selected in four expression-of-interest processes to develop their own "Partnership for Democracy".

The sponsored authorities are supported by free advisory and coaching services. These are developed, coordinated and separately provided by the coordinating office in the Federal Office for the Family and Civil Society Tasks.

How does a local "Partnership for Democracy" work?

Sponsored communities are provided by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Cities, Women and Youth – with a five-year perspective starting from 2015 – with funding for an action and initiative fund which can be used to finance concrete individual measures. This could be, for example, a democracy festival, a poster campaign or teaching and information materials.

The individual measures to be realised are agreed by a support committee which is made up partly of representatives of, if possible, all the relevant departments from local authority administration and other government institutions, plus – in the majority – active local and regional members of civil society. The support committee acts as a central strategically focussed board for implementing the local "Partnership for Democracy".

For the practical, expert coordination of the individual measures, the sponsored municipalities establish a specialist coordinationunit which is generally based with an independent organisation. This unit is responsible for controlling the implementation of the local "Partnership for Democracy", acts as a point of contact and helps to publicise the measures taken locally.

The sponsored municipalities are given separate funding for measures for participation, networking and publicity. The aim is that this will finance suitable measures to advertise the work of the "Partnership for Democracy" to the general public and to canvas for participation. As part of the proposed networking, people involved in these areas of civil society in the region are also to be actively integrated into the development and continuation of the "Partnership for Democracy". Measures promoting this include a local democracy conference held twice a year to which all the relevant people active in civil society, corresponding institutions and political and administrative decision-makers are invited in order to reflect on and define the status, objectives and direction of further work in the Partnership for Democracy on a participative basis.

In addition, to strengthen the involvement of young people in the "partnerships for democracy", youth forums are established which are organised and run by young people themselves. Separating funding is provided to the youth forums for the implementation of their own measures.