Staying Human in Politics

Structures, institutions and a political culture provide the framework for political action. However, it is always people who make politics. Against this background, we wanted to examine the challenges to “remaining human” that active and former politicians in Austria have experienced.

Staying Human in Politics


The political system is a determining factor in every society. It is shaped by structures, institutions and a political culture – factors that provide the framework for political action. However, what needs to be kept in mind is that politics is always made by human beings. And despite their involvement in the ‘political apparatus’, these people have their own perspectives; perspectives that can never be exclusively limited to the views of their party or their political function. Every single episode in their lives has an impact and makes a unique individual out of each and every politician.

On the basis of this assumption, the project „Staying Human in Politics“ aims to examine the challenges to “stay human” faced by current and former Austrian politicians. It aims to find out how they approach such challenges and what role their own values, ideals and needs play in this process.

The idea for this book project emerged from „the publication on staying human in the hospitals“ („Mensch bleiben im Krankenhaus“, 2013) by Clemens Sedmak.In this publication, Sedmak develops a general outline for humane behaviour in the daily routine of hospitals. Following this approach, „Staying Human in Politics“ does not focus on the ‘big issues’ of political ethics, but on typical, specific and maybe even ‘mundane’ situations in the daily lives of Austrian politicians from community to EU levels. What is it they perceive as morally challenging, or even as a dilemma? And what are the opportunities and limits of a responsible treatment of such challenges? „Staying Human in Politics“ examines these questions through guided, qualitative interviews with Austrian politicians.

Five topics are at the core of the project:

  • The ‘political system’: general conditions for political action
  • Upheavals and transitions in the lives of politicians
  • Inwardness and personal values
  • Leadership qualities and responsibilities
  • The work-life balance


“Mensch bleiben in der Politik” – Eine “Falter”-Rezension

Pressespiegel 3. Mar, 2017

Stellen wir uns vor: Unter den Parteien besteht eine gewisse Partnerschaft. Einer vertritt alle politischen Verantwortungsträger auf einer Veranstaltung und spricht nicht nur im Namen seiner eigenen Fraktion. Einmal im Monat gibt es ein politikfreies Wochenende. Politische Positionen sind zur Hälfte von Frauen besetzt. Nicht nur sie begrüßen es, oft um 16 oder 17 Uhr nach Hause gehen zu können, um mit ihrer Familie den Abend zu verbringen.