From 2011 to 2014, the federal programme PROMOTE TOLERANCE - ENFORCE COMPETENCE implemented by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth promoted projects throughout Germany to encourage tolerance and democracy and to combat right-wing extremism, hostility towards foreigners and anti-Semitism. It was based in the field of preventive education and was targeted primarily at children and young people. However it also aimed to reach parents, educationalists, locally influential state bodies, participants in civil society and multipliers.
PROMOTE TOLERANCE - ENFORCE COMPETENCE concentrated on three programme components: local action plans, pilot projects and advisory networks.
The federal programme supported the advisory activities of the 16 advisory networks established nationwide with the federal programme "competent. for Democracy – advisory networks against right-wing extremism", which provide fast, expert, relevant assistance if right-wing incidents occur.
The current "Live Democracy!" programme builds on what has been learned from PROMOTE TOLERANCE - ENFORCE COMPETENCE and continues its work in many areas.
With its programme "Strengthen Democracy Initiative", the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth promoted pilot projects in the general areas of left-wing extremism and Islamic extremism which – like the programmes aimed at preventive right-wing extremism – were based primarily in the educational and training sector. The aim is particular was to enable young people to recognise positions that were hostile to democracy and to examine these positions critically.
Throughout Germany, 40 projects intended to serve as models were supported with the aim of testing new preventive approaches in practice. To get to the bottom of the precise cause of left-wing extremism and Islamic extremism in adolescents and young adults in Germany, scientific research projects were also funded.
Because the programme opened up and tackled comparatively new spheres of activity, the "Strengthen Democracy Initiative" was deliberately created as a "learning programme". The practical experience gained with regard to left-wing extremism combined with scientific debates ultimately showed that there is no need for a nationally based programme element aimed at preventing left-wing extremism at a young age.
In the area of Islamic extremism, it was found that there was a need to continue developing educationally based concepts to tackle both Islam-related polarisation tendencies and Islamist orientations, undemocratic behaviour and denigration of people of other faiths among young Muslims and also hostility towards Islam/Muslims within mainstream society, and to test these concepts in practice.
The results of the "Strengthen Democracy Initiative" programme have been integrated into the current federal "Live Democracy!" programme, especially in the structuring of the programme element entitled "Pilot projects for preventing radicalisation".
With the special XENOS programme "Exit to Entry", the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs supported young people in leaving the right-wing scene from 2009 to 2013, using funds from the European Social Fund. Support was provided for initiatives, projects and associations that were developing new ideas for linking an exit from a right-wing extremist environment with entering work.
The heart of the programme was the specific promotion of labour market approaches. The projects worked on providing adolescents and young adults wishing to escape this environment with better access to training, qualifications and employment. For example, career changes to other regions were developed for young people already in employment and in contact with the right-wing extremist scene. The aim was to achieve a geographic, cultural and professional change in perspective so that contacts with the extremist environment could be severed.
Another main element in this was the promotion of an exchange of experience between the exit initiatives. In addition to discussing national approaches, international experience in the area of exit concepts were taken out into the German project landscape.
From 2007 to 2010, within the federal programme "DIVERSITY DOES US GOOD. Young people for diversity, tolerance and democracy", the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth promoted projects for the sustained prevention of right-wing extremism, hostility to foreigners and anti-Semitism.
There were two main focal points within the programme:
From 2007 to 2010, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth supported the federal states, within the federal programme "competent. for Democracy – advisory networks against right-wing extremism", in building up country-wide advisory networks which would provide expert help and advice in crisis situations with a right-wing extremist background.
The aim of the "Places of Diversity" initiative, established in 2007 by the Federal Government, represented by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration, was to strengthen cities, local authorities and district administrations throughout Germany in their commitment to diversity. The initiative was supported by the federal states, the local authority umbrella organisations, the business community, trades unions and organisations within civil society.
The support phase for this initiative ended at the beginning of 2011. The 211 "places of diversity" continue to be committed to democratic cooperation.