Democracy can survive only with a democratically-minded population. This lesson, learned from the failure of the first German Republic, the Weimar Republic, led the Federal Republic of Germany to establish political foundations. As an important part of political culture, these foundations would henceforth serve as a lasting and profound anchor for democratic awareness in our country. Former German President Roman Herzog accurately characterised them as “schools of democratic thought and action, testbeds for civil courage and common sense that bestow upon us the ethical principles without which our political system cannot function.” Today, six political foundations operate in Germany, spanning the political spectrum. Each is closely aligned with one party. Their legitimacy comes from nearly complete state funding from the German parliament. Their conscious and intentional coexistence is an exercise in pluralism founded upon on a basic consensus on liberal democratic principles. “Democracy,” Herzog also said, “means example as well as instruction.”
The Hanns Seidel Foundation, named after the former Bavarian prime minister and CSU chairman, has belonged to this family of foundations since 1967. It is politically aligned with the Christian Social Union and engages in political education with the aim of promoting the democratic and civic education of the German people on Christian foundations. Its educational programmes extend beyond party boundaries and are open to all interested citizens. Its commitment to democracy, peace, and development abroad also rests on these foundations. In addition, the foundation’s practical actions focus on standards of human dignity and tolerance, freedom and responsibility, solidarity and sustainability, equality of opportunity and intergenerational justice, and subsidiarity as a principle of responsibility and structure.
Mission and objectives must be pursued consistently. Structures must be reviewed, processes corrected, and new formats developed and introduced. Digitalisation is also becoming increasingly important for political education. We are very well positioned here. Online seminars are no substitute for face-to-face seminars, but they complement our range of services decisively. This enables us to generate new reach to young target groups. Participation in the socio-political debate, dialogue with various interest groups, and the development of solution strategies are among our tasks – which we fulfill nationally and internationally, always in the service of democracy, peace, and development. This brochure provides a compact overview of the Hanns Seidel Foundation’s wide-ranging activities.