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Future of Democracy 2021: High Level Forum on Defending Against Authoritarianism

The Future of Democracy was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania in Vilnius on 19-20 November 2021. The forum brought together high-calibre policy-makers, intellectuals, and democracy activists to address the principal challenges democracy is facing globally, helping to lay the groundwork for the Summit.

Topics under discussion included:

I. Contracting Democratic Space

1. Tyrannical temptations: scenarios and reality of democratic backsliding in functioning democracies; erosion and takeover of democratic institutions; corruption as a threat to democracy.
2. Threats to established democracies posed by radical political movements (populism, radicalisation of mainstream parties, the ‘empty centre ground’).
3. Technological challenges to democratic information and public opinion ecosystems.
4. How autocratic regimes woo public imagination in democratic countries (disinformation, abuse of media freedom, theories of conspiracy, illiberal mindsets, defenders of ‘traditional values’).

II. Authoritarian Entrenchment

5. Consolidation of autocratic governance model & the formation of Anti-Democratic International (i.a., authoritarian regimes’ cooperation).
6. Democratic transitions that failed to materialise.
7. How authoritarian regimes project power (projection of economic power through infrastructure projects; economic entanglement of democratic countries; alternatives to democratic narrative in international organisations; geopolitical Great Game scenarios).
8. Why are authoritarian regimes taking initiative, with the democratic world left to react? (hybrid warfare; authoritarian economic sanctions; growing authoritarian foot-in-the door in the Eastern Neighbourhood and beyond).

III. Path to Democratic Revival

9. How to make democracy attractive again? Revival of democratic narrative. The pragmatic importance of values, principles, and moral earnestness of democratic politics.
10.How to return economic initiative to the free world? (Why freedom and democracy are conducive to prosperity and sustainable growth; regulating access to the democratic world markets; anti-coercion instruments; increasing efficiency of democratic governance.)
11. The geopolitical response scenarios to authoritarian encroachment – in Africa, in Asia, in Eastern Partnership countries, in the EU. (Three Seas Initiative et al.)
12. What world shall we live in? The need for democracies to consolidate politically and embrace shared geopolitical vision – and united framework of action.

Event date
19 November 2021
Organising parties
Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs