• Think tanks in the age of post-truth politics

    How to make facts matter (again)

    Europe welcomed 2019 with a growing political polarisation, persistent populist tendencies, threats to media freedom and shrinking space for civil society. Non-transparent policy processes and rule of law deterioration in many countries contributed to poor policies, which in the Western Balkans have decelerated democratic transition as well as progress in achieving EU membership requirements. Such unfavourable environment for policy development in the region is additionally hampered by weak and politicised institutions and deficient reform sustainability, alongside freedom of information decline.

    As the grip of post-truth politics, dominated by emotional rather than factual discourses, has been intensifying, it has shaken the relevance of evidence in informing public attitudes and beliefs. In the environment in which emotions and misstatements can matter more than evidence, think tanks face a challenge of preserving credibility and impact. It also affects their efforts towards promoting constructive policy dialogue and collaboration with the governments in tackling policy issues. Moreover, it diminishes efforts in advocating for good governance and disguising maladministration through evidence-based analysis.

    How can think tanks continue to provide policy alternatives, shape public opinion and influence policy makers in such an environment? What can they do to counter post-truth politics and show why facts matter for both the public and decision makers? What advanced communication tools can think tanks use to tackle distorted statements with both comprehensible and accurate messages to reach the wider public?

    To address these questions, CEP is joining hundreds of leading world-wide think-tanks in hosting simultaneous national events as part of the 2018 Go To Think Tank Index Report Launch, promoted by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania, USA.

    These and other pertinent questions will be discussed by:

    • Matt Dann, Secretary General, Bruegel, Brussels
    • Dejan Jović, Professor at Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Member of CEP Council
    • Nataša Vučković, Member of Parliament, Secretary General, Center for Democracy Foundation, Belgrade

    Following the panel, an open discussion with leading think tankers (directors/heads of Belgrade think tanks), other civil society organisations, researchers, experts, academia, government representatives and other stakeholders will take place. The discussion will be moderated by Milena Lazarević, Programme Director, CEP Belgrade.

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