Activist Forum Niš: Public Spaces as Sites of Democratization

The fifth Activist Forum addressing the issue of public spaces as sites of democratization was held during March 10th to 12th in Niš, Serbia.

Since the dispossession in the peripheries is more visible and more strenuous on the population than in the centers, Activist Fora are meant to be held in second and third cities. Niš, Serbia’s third largest city, for example, was an economic hotspot in the former Yugoslavia with industrial giants such as Elektro Industrija Niš, which used to employ tens of thousands. Despite the deindustrialization that ensued during the transition, Niš maintained a strong civil society including a vivid activist scene. The movements emerging there gained more traction with the recent protests related to housing issues and high utility costs. In the course of the forum, participants also discussed Ne (da)vimo Beograd (Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own), an initiative struggling against the Belgrade Waterfront development project and the issues arising from it.

The forum started by asking the question of what the Left means in Serbia today. Ensuing discussions suggested that genuine Left positions were more present in civil society and street initiatives than in public institutions or political organizations.

Niš was also the site in which the project marked the official start of writing the #DL18 platform. Together with the activists, a first round of topics was identified that the group felt needed to be raised in developing positions for a political platform. Among the four clusters (democracy, economy, social state, resources) participants discussed several ideas and points of departure.

The democracy cluster discussed practices of social movements, while focusing on the relationship social movements are having with political parties. Within the economy cluster, participants discussed the possibilities of alternative economic practices such as participatory budgeting, barter economies as well as structural reforms towards different economic models. The social state cluster focused on trade-union organizing in public companies and new models of public-civil partnerships, as well as new means in reclaiming social justice; the resource cluster will be working on the increasing commodification of public resources, housing cooperatives, peer-to-peer networks and the commons.

Once again, our partners from European Alternatives recorded an episode of their Talk Real series. 

The next forum is scheduled to take place in Tirana, Albania between April 24th and 26th.

Dialogue Southeast Europe

Kupreška 20, 71000 Sarajevo
Bosnia and Herzegovina

+387 33 711 540
+387 33 711 541



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