Photo: What About Democracy? from DAZ Stuttgart
by Maya Moritz
One year after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Americans are still debating what such a spillover of divisive sentiment means for politics, partisanship, and the future of US democracy. The Supreme Court recently decided to allow the investigating US House committee access to records of former President Donald Trump’s activities on the day of the riot, so the public can expect further revelations on the events that led to hundreds of injuries, five deaths and four subsequent officer suicides.
Simultaneously, Germany has experienced a significant political shift as Angela Merkel ended her chancellorship after 16 years. The reigning CDU/CSU party saw its worst results ever while parties including the SPD and the Greens made historic gains. With the ascension of chancellor Olaf Scholz and the traffic light coalition of the SPD, Greens, and FDP, Germans can anticipate important policy changes in terms of vaccine mandates, autobahn speed limits, and marijuana legalization.
Suffice to say, it’s been a busy time for German and American democracy. To sort through the buzz and mixed messages, the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum (DAZ) in Stuttgart is hosting two events in cooperation with Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden-Württemberg for students and adults both curious and confused.
As reported last year in our piece on former US Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson’s Fireside Chat, the DAZ is a hub for non-partisan, open dialogue and cultural programming.
According to Katharina Buchter, who coordinates Press and Public Relations for the DAZ, the organization is a „German cultural and educational institute located in Stuttgart and our mission is to inform about the U.S. and transatlantic relations as well as to foster German-American friendship.“
Two exciting upcoming events will allow students and attendees to debate the state of democracy and the transatlantic relationship. On Thursday, January 27 at 19:00, a virtual panel discussion will explore the topic „Democracy in Danger.“
Moderated by Dr. Martin Kilgus of ifa Akademie, the panel will delve into whether governments in the US and Europe are endangered and how to counter the loss of trust in those systems. The panelists include Prof. Dr. Marianne Kneuer, whose work at TU Dresden covers democracy and autocracy, and Ted Piccone, a nonresident senior fellow at the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and the chief engagement officer at the World Justice Project.
The student-focused portion of the „What About Democracy?“ series features a virtual event on Friday, January 28 at 10:00. During the 1.5-hour „Democratic Diplomacy: A Transatlantic Conversation,“ students of political science, history, American studies, or foreign relations are invited to query U.S. and German diplomats about democracy development and international cooperation.
Moderator Andrew Halus is a Public Affairs Officer for the US Consulate General in Frankfurt and has served the US in Morocco, Iraq, Tanzania, and beyond. Halus will be speaking to Peter Adams, Desk Officer for transatlantic relations at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, and Karl McNamara of the Political Section at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.
Both events are free to attend and promise first-hand accounts of the daily ins-and-outs of diplomacy from experts in the field. BAStA will be running reviews of these talks, so stay tuned for coverage of these timely and revealing conversations.