Citizen Assemblies Drive Democracy

Citizen Assemblies Drive Democracy

13 Jun 2020

The Distance from Idea to Societal Change Must Be Reduced

Did you build your own home? No, the vast majority of us live in a home built by others and we quickly accept that some things are as they are and that we don't have the means or ways to change them.

We also live in a world that have been created by others and the social framework we live in are products of other people's ideas, thoughts and values
If we want to change something, we can compare our home to others, we can look across to the neighbor to see how they have done it and maybe get inspired to change something in our own home - but the distance between idea to action for social change is too far.

In society, the vast majority of us don't have the power to do much. As we have just learned in an article from Altinget, our current government consists of social democrats, who have known each other for 20 years, have built up an understanding between each other with a 100-year-old state-sponsored political organisation as support.

If you want to change something in society today, you are facing this type of organisation. Otherwise, you have to build and fight from another platform and we have seen how extreme opinions and the use of celebrity status ensure attention, but does it create change? Does it actually change society or does it just waste media minutes that could have been used more productively?

So how do we make constructive suggestions for our everyday life - our house? How do we get our voices heard?

Demonstrations and campaigns create awareness, but it is only when protesters and political leaders have a common focus that demonstrations are met constructively. A Danish example was how Ungdomshusets Thursday marches drew Copenhagen's politicians to the negotiating table and the Youth House on Dorotheavej became a reality.

Citizen Suggestions are another way - it gives citizens an opportunity to make suggestions, but no related platform is provided where the proposal can be disuccsed publicly and the government does not provide any structural framework for deliberation. For example, the proposers will not get to meet with important legislators on the subject and media time is not guaranteed. If you want to make a suggestion, you have to fight all the way yourself.

Citizen Assemblies are the next step and the OECD has just published a report which will equip more people to create a deliberative democracy.
Danish We Do Democracy has just started its second Citizen Assembly here in Denmark ( where select citizen discuss input to create new solutions for a specific problem.

If we are going to change society - if we are going to get our voices heard in a constructive way, we need to learn how to organise, work together and develop ideas together.

We in Volt strongly believe that we citizens are the way forward - not just here in Denmark, but throughout Europe. It is on street level and in the homes that problems are experienced - this is why we believe the solutions must be found here too. We want to help create a new, citizen-driven society!

By Kathrine Richter, co-lead Volt Danmark

Volt is Denmark's Pan-European party - we have created a political party that brings together activists and political beginners from all over the continent, because we want to transform our society into a sustainable, participating and active democracy that is shaped NOW and HERE - not through old power structures .