Campaign against illiberal democracy “The Power of the Word”

On January 29, 2018, civil society organizations from Croatia (CROSOL), Latvia (LAPAS) and Slovenia (SLOGA) launched a European-level internet campaign against the flourishing of illiberal democracy in Europe. The Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation (LAPAS) was one of the organizers of the campaign. Several thematic activities of the campaign in Latvia started already in the summer of 2017 at the conversation festival LAMPA, when a symbolic stencil art work “Power of the Word” was created in cooperation with artist Dainis Rudens.

Campaign goal

To draw attention to recent illiberal trends in Eastern Europe and encourage the citizens of those countries to remain committed to human rights, liberal democracy and the rule of law.

“With this campaign we want to convey various messages from Eastern European countries. We believe that Europe needs to change and become more democratic, with stronger protection of human rights values, from civil and political to economic rights. We want to live in societies where liberal rights are not marginalized socio-economic rights and vice versa. The idea of ​​solidarity and democracy must live on in Europe. More democracy for a cohesive democracy”, explains Gordan Bosanac, President of the Croatian International Platform of Civil Solidarity (CROSOL).

LAPAS director Inese Vaivare on the topicality of the campaign in Latvia: “Civil society is one of the pillars of democracy. Neighboring democracies are flourishing here in the neighborhood, with police raids and closures by non-governmental organizations. By analogy, these autocracies also affect the media: in Hungary, the independent media have been destroyed and only those who flatter the state can exist freely. In Latvia, too, media freedom hangs in the head, there are constant scandals and political influence. In Poland, the “new” power, hidden under “conservatism”, quickly overthrew both the media and the judiciary. LAPA’s campaign “The Power of the Word” calls not to remain silent and not to accept the flourishing populism with us, not to give up, but to be aware of the power of one’s word and to stand up for the values ​​of liberal democracy."

Campaign message

Motto of the campaign: A word has a power.

A WORD is a form of expression in which we introduce our thoughts. while the thought can be hidden, the word is revealed. After saying or writing a word, it becomes public and initiates further processes. Nowadays, word expressions can be various. The word of law can allow or forbidden. The word of the decision maker can give freedom and take it away. We understand or misunderstand each other in words.

THE POWER OF THE WORD brings not only a form of culture and communication, but also information that can change starting from everyday things to big processes.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION is one of the fundamental freedoms of democracy, which allows expression without fear of oppression or punishment.

Civil society in the WORLD is currently facing a growing threat: a significant number of activists who have turned against the existing power die every year, and people who stand up for change are discredited. In the European Union, too, civil society is under increasing scrutiny, in some places, such as in Poland and Hungary, even threatened.

In the context of DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION, the essence of the power of the word is related to policy coherence for development - how decisions, actions, information are made in Latvia, affect development in other countries and globally.

RELATED WORDS: media literacy, critical thinking

Campaign target audience

  • Every thinking citizen
  • Decision makers
  • Media
  • NGO activists

Campaign implementation time

June, 2017 – March, 2018

Campaign activities

  • International discussion “O, Fact-based voiceless one-liner - Where Art Thou?” which was held during the convrsation festival LAMPA 2017, with participation with journalists from Latvia, Hungary, Poland and Estonia.
  • Series of articles on what is happening in Eastern European countries regarding trends of illiberal democracy.
  • In Cēsis, Raunas Street 9, within the framework of the conversation festival LAMPA 2017, the graffiti wall “The Power of the Word” of the artist Dainis Rudens was opened.
  • LAPAS tent “The Power of the Word” offered talks and discussions, practical workshops, premiere of short films made at the festival, live broadcast from the colony, interactive games, workshops for children within the framework of the LAMPA 2017 conversation festival. The events were organized in cooperation with our like-minded people and friends: the Latvian Farmers’ Federation, Ilze Dzenovska, the association “Green Liberty”, the movement “Gribu palīdzēt bēgļiem”, support and resource center for all affected by HIV and AIDS “Dia + Logs”, the association “Zemes draugi” ”, Kaņepe Cultural Center, association “Droša māja”, Avantis, Young Media Sharks, Children’s Environmental School.
  • Developing the idea of ​​the campaign, LAPAS organized the World Best News Day 2017 and coordinated [Global Education Week] 2017 all over Latvia.


International discussion “O, Fact-based voiceless one-liner - Where Art Thou?“ in Festival LAMPA 2017

G.Antell: More facts and less truth: the media has room to step up

G.Antell: How to tear down democracy - ”I think this government hates the European Union"

G.Antell: Can Attila take Victor down? - the illiberal Hungarian democracy might be weaker than you think

Four stencil art works against illiberal democracy in Latvia, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia

Report in Illiberal Democracy trends in Latvia, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia

Campaign banner: Latvia

Campaign banner: Croatia

Campaign banner: Slovenia

Campaign banner: Hungary

On illiberal democracies

The phenomenon of illiberal democracies reduces the concept of democracy to a simple multi-party system, and at the same time seeks to suppress or institutionally marginalize all the remaining basic components needed for a democratic pluralistic society to function adequately. In this respect, the leaders of the so-called illiberal democracies are attacking human rights, especially those relating to freedom of assembly, association and expression. Their attack directly targets critical civil society organizations, the independent media, including the independent judiciary and other institutions responsible for the protection of human rights and the functioning of democracy. This phenomenon was well known outside the EU, but in the last few years it has begun to spread within the EU’s borders.

*The campaign took place within the framework of the project “More Democracy for More Europe”. The project is co-financed by the European Union’s Europe for Citizens program. *