Democra(z)y in Practice

It was the Summer of 2013 when the idea of Democracy in Practice (DiP) was born among the members of the Human Rights Working Group. One year later, June 2014, the core team gathered in Brussels and finalised the outline of the Democracy in Practice Project. In the following months, the team got bigger and they decided to have a second meeting at the end of September. At Agora Cagliari, ten out of the fourteen members of the team were there to represent the project. November 1st was a special day for the Democracy in Practice Project: not only did they get to sign the contract to become an official AEGEE-Europe Project, but they also got ratified by the Agora!

Training courses on topics like conflict resolution, refugees and migration, minorities, influence of the media and gender equality are going to be hosted by different AEGEE locals in the following months. Next to that, in the beginning of January, Atanas Nachkov (AEGEE-Sofia and Mediation Commission) contacted the DiP Team, asking for more information about how to start an AEGEE-Europe Project and shared with them an idea he had for a new project.

This new project have similarities with Democracy in Practice that might confuse people. In order not to have one of the projects overlap the other, Atanas and the DiP Team decided to work together. That new project is a separate one and for now it works within Democracy in Practice since they have common aims.

First of all, how was the idea born?

A little bit after Agora Zaragoza, there was a random Skype call between Atanas Nachkov and Paul Smits. At some point the discussion headed to the recently re-defined vision and mission of AEGEE.

Since we shall strive for a democratic Europe, what is democracy then?

It really sounds crazy to ask this question, but a simple sentence answer is not what they were looking for. Thus, the first aim of this new-born project was to outline the critical characteristics of the democratic society – from supremacy of law, freedom of speech and government accountability till transparency and right to protest. If we manage to create a more sophisticated description, we’ll have a better vision of what we are truly fighting for.

All that was left, was the name for the project, which Paul simply dropped, but it really fit, because we intended to have something catchy and playful. “Democrazy”. If it’s not fun, it won’t work. Unfortunately, both Atanas and Paul were very busy last year and they couldn’t elaborate much on it before kicking off. However, it will begin as an initiative inside Democracy in Practice due to its fundamental familiarity with this project. Gradually it will develop its own identity and hopefully, its own approval by the Agora as a European Project. This way, it will not confuse the rest of the AEGEE members and it’s a great example how people from different projects and initiatives can collaborate together. “I’m really thankful to the whole team behind DiP, who so gladly adopted this idea and allowed it to grow within their domicile. This will have a beneficial impact to Democrazy” states Atanas Nachkov.

If you are interested in the Democrazy Project, please contact him at

Written by Lia Tuska, AEGEE-Sofia/AEGEE-Thessaloniki