Far away from the usual party politics rhetoric, the secluded conference center of “The Land Beyond” in the remote village of Vitsa in the Epirus Mountains provided leading liberal politicians as well as politically active, reform-oriented citizens with a space to openly exchange ideas about the future state of the liberal camp in Greece.
While learning more about participatory leadership approaches, representatives of liberal and centrist parties got the chance to truly connect beyond any party boundaries. The participation of liberal party leaders such as Thanos Tzimeros (Dimiourgia Xana!, ReCreate Greece!), Gregory Vallianatos (Fileleftheri Symmakhia, Liberal Alliance) and Melina Daskalaki (Secretary-General of Drasi) ensured that the bottom-up approaches taught in the seminar were incorporated also by the highest level of the respective parties. For the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, board member Manfred Richter – a former Member of Parliament and Lord Mayor of the City of Bremerhaven – conducted workshops on grassroots campaigning, party strategy and intra-party democracy.
The aims of the five-day seminar, to acquaint members of different parties with the principles of participatory leadership and thus promote democratic decision-making on every party level, were largely met. “While some Greek parties already implement forms of online decision-making, it is crucial to know what else could be done to involve the citizen in the political process”, one participant said. “It is liberalism which advocates a pluralism of thought – something that is all too easily forgotten in today’s Greece.” Furthermore, the various groupings within the liberal spectrum got to know each other better – a positive side-effect in the wake of the upcoming election year!