In scholars’ and public opinion, democratic transformation in Central Europe resulted in general in considerable level of system consolidation. That however was not accompanied either by electoral stability or high level of public trust in mainstream politics (Cześnik 2009, Bernhagen and Marsh 2007, Norris 2002). Low electoral engagement and rather narrow membership base of the main political parties as well as disenchantment with public sphere are common denominators for the Visegrad Four as well as neighboring countries (Bernhagen and Marsh 2007, Vrablikova 2011).
That does not mean complete anomia of our societies – outside the mainstream that is colonized by the main political actors, one can observe a constant activity of small entities, usually ignored by media and/or mainstream politics. For the purpose of this project we called them Socio-political Alternatives, what we mean by that are politicized social interests (Biezen 2005: 160) that can act flexibly either as a traditional regular interest groups, indirectly influencing state institutions or organizations directly get involved in politics themselves i.e. running in elections. The Polish examples in that matter would be i.e. Anti-ACTA movement or Kongres Kobiet (Women Congress). These entities, in our opinion, create a multidimensional ALTERNATIVE to the existing institutions, like political parties. What is also important is that SPACE go beyond the “typical” politics of protest and create a unique sphere of representation and politisation within a much wider area of civic society.
The SPACE Project was started and is being coordinated at Department of Political Science, Pedagogical University of Krakow. The first event – SPACE Workshop will take place in December 2013 in Krakow. More information here (PDF).