Why is military service restricted to men? What can citizens do to prevent themselves from falling for lies told during pre-election campaigning? What is the difference between a welfare state and a social state? Can we protect our privacy on Facebook? How is a people different from a nation?
These are just some questions from citizens that have been posted – and answered – on Syntagma Watch (www.syntagmawatch.gr), a new interactive platform that hosts educational and informative content on the Constitution and democracy.
Syntagma Watch is the main pillar of an innovative educational program dubbed “New Citizens and the Constitution” which is currently being implemented by the Center for European Constitutional Law – Themistokles and Dimitris Tsatsos Foundation (CECL) with funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. It aims to familiarize people aged between 22 and 30 with the workings of democracy as well as to strengthen trust in the institutions.
“It is an effort to win back the young people who have estranged themselves from civic affairs, from democratic procedures – [an estrangement] that was made evident in the last elections,” Xenophon Contiades, professor of public law at Panteion University and managing director of CECL, told Kathimerini.
“Academics from around the world have concluded that the best way to prevent young voters from migrating to the extremes of the political spectrum, their self-victimization as a result of populism, and their alienation is civic education. This is what this program is all about,” he said.
Syntagma Watch aspires to become an observatory of long-term constitutional and institutional developments in the country.
“The platform will, on one hand, host comments on everyday institutional developments and, on the other, enable citizens to express their opinions and ask questions – in other words to take part in public dialogue,” Contiades said.
A group of leading scientists with international scientific and research experience are responsible for what goes up on the platform, as well as responding to users’ queries.
The overall goal is to make more complicated themes more accessible to the wider public while producing content on constitutional institutions and the rule of law.