Is it time to start experimenting with democracy? We recently organised a Citizens’ Panel bringing together citizens and civil society members to discuss. Below are some of the questions that come out of that panel.

First, Paolo asked:

How can we make democracy more accessible to those who come from more vulnerable or marginalised communities? How can we make sure that a cultural change is enabled in order to make sure that people can participate in a more direct way into decision-making processes, and are actually empowered to do so safely? How can we have the chance of politics leading to bigger, more radical changes when needed, rather than relying so much on individual initiative at a higher level, such as within international frameworks?

Next, Kleopatra from Greece asked:

How do we foster the power of social media to bring people’s voices marginalized people’s voices or disadvantage people’s voices to the forefront and enhance the democratic process through these new technologies? How do we manage to build bridges between people who seem to fundamentally disagree on core issues? For example, how do we build a bridge of communication between people who are feminists with those who are not feminists? Or people who believe in climate change and those who don’t?

Finally, Maarten from the Netherlands asked:

How can we prevent so-called democratic innovations reproducing existing structural inequalities? Do you agree with me that so-called democratic innovations are only meaningful and / or successful if they are evaluated as such by those most marginalized in society?

To get a response, we organised a panel of experts on participatory and deliberative democracy:

💬Camille Dobler, Missions Publiques
💬Niccolò Milanese, European Alternatives & Citizens Takeover Europe
💬Gaetane Ricard-Nihoul, Conference on the Future of Europe Secretariat
💬Manon Revel, Institute for Data, Systems and Society, MIT
💬Daniela Vancic, Democracy International & Citizens Takeover Europe

You can watch the panel in the video above.

What should democracy look like in the 21st century? Does democracy have to resemble the post-war democratic systems we are all familiar with? Can Europe institutionalise the “deliberative wave” of democratic experimentation represented by national citizens’ assemblies, mini-publics, and the Conference on the Future of Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

27 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Democracy’s smallest part is going to the ballots to vote for representatives. Especially modern communication channels quite unconsciously are spreading public opinion very fast. And it is independent from main stream media. Don’t read that in a wrong way, I know what it sounds like. Opportunities for a “deep democracy” lie literally in our hands. We can gather information quickly and exchange opinions just as fast. Public institutions should not turn a blind eye on that. It is of advantage for democracy that the problem of one person can quickly cause publicly expressed opposition. In doing so, institutions can and should be prepared to react to it. They often retreat to saying that the law prohibits them to step out of their shoes. Well, let us make laws which require them to do exactly that: Deliver service in the interest and support for people. In my opinion this a strong expression of public will and a good indicator for politics where it ought to be headed.

  2. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    DE: “Is it time to start experimenting with democracy?”
    No- experimenting means gambling- playing “Russian roulette”!

    I doubt whether these proposals are the correct approach to seriously embark on a road to fix the chronic democratic deficit of the EU structure- never mind Europe- which should include- not exclude Russia.

    What does the Russian-Ukrainian “war” highlight?

    After the dissolution of the USSR, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic changed its name to Ukraine on 24 August 1991, but retained its UN Membership- obtained on 24-10-1945. Ukraine ended its participation in the CIS statutory bodies in 2018.

    Does the letter dated 24 December 1991 from Boris Yeltsin, the President of the Russian Federation automatically make Russia- a?- or- “the” only successor to the Soviet Union in relation to international organizations, treaties, and assets of the USSR- as claimed by Mr Putin & Co?

    Does that make Putin’s Russia the “Successor State” or a “Continuing State” equal to Ukraine? That should be a matter to be urgently resolved by the 15 member UN Security Council and not NATO or the EU!

    The letter’s content did inform the Secretary-General that the membership of the Soviet Union in the Security Council and all other United Nations organs was being continued by the Russian Federation (‘Russia’) with the support of the 11 member countries of the (CIS) Commonwealth of Independent States- which included Ukraine- until it left voluntary in 2018.

    Constitutions & treaties in Europe remain shaky and targets to be ignored, manipulated or changed willy-nilly- to serve & suit the interest of extreme political parties, dreamers, powerful cliques and gone mad despots.

    Article 51 of the UN Charter provides:
    “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the UN until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” What are these measures?

    Constitutions should be agreed upon, rather than subtle ‘imposed’ so as to provide an acceptable framework for the settling of different political views.

    Therefore, any basic EU reform strategy should first start with a visit & equalisation (levelling) of all existing EU sovereign members’ national Constitutions by considering their special obligations to their historical & binding undertakings given to any third party during their entire existence.

    Prepare & back to basics- on national levels first!

  3. avatar

    21st century democracy means confiscating Russian people’s money and assets in European banks? Rule of law in the 21st century democracy is collapsing, apparently.

  4. avatar

    why does us wants to know what you thinks?

  5. avatar

    Difficult to say once the guvernamental organization is structured in such a way that it is misused by the people in power. No one should be above the law! No politician should have immunity first of all! The decisions of presidents over army should also be approved by separate organization(s)!

  6. avatar
    JT HK

    When people are relying on fake news, democracy’s tyranny of the majority has no difference with dictatorship. When people are brainwashed by fake news of the media and bewitching speeches of populism, democracy is equal to anarchism.

  7. avatar

    The foundations of democracy are informed decisions. Facts and arguments are easy to come by today. But who can tell which is which? The second point to consider in this matter is how people can receive reliable information who do not have the possibilities – I know it is hard to say that – neither time, devices nor wits to understand what they are being presented with. Therefore digitalcentrism has to be avoided.
    On the other hand social media are a powerful multiplier. They are making it easy to reply to requests. If used for political decision making a process has to be behind it which reliably represents the largest parts of the populace.
    My thought is that means to quickly send requests to political decision makers and it will be their job to see what can be done about it on different levels.
    In conclusion, the digisphere is supporting grass-root activism. It is also bypassing NGOs which are all good and well but lack democratic legitimation. Multi-levelled activism this way can become a quick two way tool to issue demands and receive replies. This is a great step towards active democracy. As long as this supports represantative democracy as we know it today, it can help to reduce administrative democracy e.g. decision making in EU-Institutions.

  8. avatar

    The Europe do nothing for the very expensive gaz and petrol .only to bay guns.

  9. avatar
    JT HK

    Europe needs to learn what does “demo” means. It is not about political party, not about politicians, not about political leaders but about the well beings of the people i.e. the country. Political leaders and parties must put the collective interest of the people above narrow personal and party interests. Individual interest would never be able to achieve without the collective interest can be secured first.

  10. avatar
    JT HK

    Anyway, European democracy in the 21st century must not look like American liberal democracy, which is just a procedural democracy focusing on election and manipulating populism to cheat voter supports. Europe is getting infected by American populism, however, diverting attention from government inefficiency to foreign policy and fabricated external enemies. Even the American president Trump had said the American airport is like those of a third world country. As a matter of fact, the American are sleeping along the street in tents, seriously broken and worn out infrastructure everywhere. Europe better learn from China, limited money is better spending on well beings of the people rather than going all over the world to wage war to boost arm sales while killing soldiers and civilians.As a matter of fact, before the Covid, before the border is closed, people went to enjoy weekends in Shenzhen where good food East and West all over with very spacious dining area and environment. Shopping centers are modern and with abundant commodities, more importantly, very cheap. Wealth of nation better use on the people rather than waste in war.

  11. avatar
    JT HK

    There is no political system that can cater different interest of all individuals. What is their voice? Whose voice? When there are too many voices, too many interests, political decision can only favour whose voice heard. Unfortunately, the most vocally dominated group would never be the most needed group. Thus, democracy is not necessarily representing majority interests but that of the dominant powers or interest groups. Say, the current sanction of Russian gas and oil, who suffer most? Definitely not politicians sent to the parliament with political donation from big enterprises, nor well off people.

  12. avatar

    Well, we claim to be democratic but are we? If we could create a typology of democratic levels, we are still quite low on the scale. Voting for a representative every four years is a very basic level of democracy. Voting for specific issues every now and then, the Swiss way, is definitely a level higher. Putting in place citizen assemblies to study a topic and make concrete proposals would seem to me like a deeper, more deliberative and reflexive approach to democracy. I would definitely support that, particularly when faced with conflicting ‘facts’. Then we should also note that although we are quick to criticise autocracies, most of us agree to spend most of our days working for autocracies. Only very few jobs, both in the public or the private, operate democratically e.g. some universities have rolling leadership among its professors, but in most cases we need to work under the whim of one CEO parachuted in by external interests and criticism is rarely welcome. So before we criticise other countries, I think we still have a lot of work to really give power to the people and avoid power abuse by a handful few – which is really the point of all democracies.

    • avatar

      Yannick Cornet, very good point.

  13. avatar

    “Western democracy” in the 21st century means sanction Russian including cats, arts, music, sports!

    • avatar

      JT HK Yes, while Russian democracy means poisoning opponents, rigging elections, cheating the constitution, and of course killing thousands inside and outside the country.

  14. avatar

    The caption is misleading because there are different kinds of democracy. Sovereign state and people have their preferred democracy, which Europe must respect. What Europe need to talk about is European democracy not democracy of other cultural civilization because development of different people are progressing at different pace and path. This is the basic principle of democracy.

  15. avatar

    According to the Enlightenment spirit, the common goal is to use scientific research as natural science to find fates. The very first question to start the discussion on European democracy in the 21st century is whether it is democratic to allow media to mute different voices and base on fake news or one sided story and even misleading news to sanction Xinjiang Ugyhur people and Russian in the current Ukraine crisis. Stop helping the media to brainwash people and mislead the public so as to win public support and political power. This would do nothing good as Europe is panicking on its own decline.

  16. avatar

    Ask ur masters in the wolrd economic forum

  17. avatar

    THE democracy back to its humble beginnings and Study it perhaps you might get what it means and how to apply it

    • avatar

      humble beginnings, a handful of greek men who exclude women and slaves?

    • avatar

      it has to start somewhere and yes it wasn’t perfect but it was a start

    • avatar

      based on exclusion

  18. avatar

    Should be like democracy like it was before

  19. avatar

    colonialists, masters of slaves thousands of war aggressions, war crimes,genocides and still not prosecute by a international Court

  20. avatar

    Democratie Openbaarheid van bestuur. Rechten en plichten voor iedere burger. Stop partijpolitiek Wie bestuurd moet neutraliteit hebben Geen sepetarisme en inspraak van minderheden. Mensenrechten. En. Vrijheid. Dat denk ik . Groeten

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