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MeDiterrate Symposium Concludes with Resounding Success

The MeDiterrate Foundation for Mediterranean Studies, celebrating over 40 years of excellence in fostering dialogue and research in the region, proudly announces the successful conclusion of its symposium on the ‘Crisis of Democracy and Representation’.

Under the distinguished leadership of Napoleon Maravegias, MeDiterrate Scientific Council Chair, the symposium delved into the pressing issue of representation in contemporary political landscapes.

Renowned constitutional scholar, Spyridon Vlachopoulos, University of Athens Professor of Public Law, highlighted a series of symptoms indicating the marginalization of participatory institutions in today’s political conditions.

Addressing the phenomenon of voter abstention, seasoned economist Georgios Bitros, Athens University of Economics and Business Emeritus Professor of Political Economy, provocatively questioned whether low voter turnout holds direct political significance, contrasting trends observed in countries like Australia, Finland, and Switzerland. Bitros underscored the profound impact of “asymmetric information dissemination” on the sense of representation, where technocrats often dominate policy decisions, disengaging citizens from substantive participation.

Drawing from his experience in American political systems and grassroots organizations, Theodoros Stathis, MeDiterrate BoD President, posed a crucial question on how to counter the professionalization of politics. Stathis proposed a novel approach inspired by the logic of the Ancient Agora, suggesting that parties consider incorporating mechanisms akin to ancient democratic practices. While central figures such as presidents and parliamentary candidates would remain exempt, the broader structure of party organs could embrace methods like random selection to enhance the sense of participation and ensure equal opportunities, free from closed networks. Stathis’s proposal aims to rejuvenate party engagement, recognizing that in modern democracies, no substitute has been found for the central function of political parties.

Moreover, Nikos K. Kyriazis, Emeritus Professor of Economic Development and European Policies at the University of Thessaly, known for his scholarly work on democracy in ancient Athens, emphasized the need for exploring alternative forms of participatory democracy. Drawing parallels between ancient and modern systems, Kyriazis argued that current systems are inherently challenging and warrant experimentation with new forms of participatory democracy.

The symposium concluded on an optimistic note, emphasizing the importance of ongoing dialogue and innovative approaches to address the challenges facing democratic representation in the Mediterranean and beyond.