Identify groups of the population who are heavily involved in democratic engagement in Europe and those that aren’t. If they are involved, why is that the case? And if they aren’t, why aren’t they?
I would assume for those that are engaged, it’s because they are able to identify with political discourse in some way. Once we know how and why some people engage in democracy, we can attempt to apply some of that learning to other groups.
In my opinion this would involve focusing on grass roots movements and engaging with community leaders. Lots of people feel that our democratic system only protects certain people. I think in an attempt to bridge that gap, some time needs to be spent with those people to understand why they feel betrayed. Then some work needs to be done in order to evaluate whether this is the case.
A lot, but not all, political conversations, processes and decisions are conducted in an archaic manner. In order to make democracy more responsive in Europe, some of these things need to take a more transparent approach and need to engage more of the population. We know this is possible because Democracy Club’s success is partly hinged on the work completed by engaged volunteers.
If you believe that more direct democracy is inevitable (and it’s at the heart of several party campaigns), Europe should look to the Swiss for their advice and experience. Efforts could be made to try to improve representative democracy, such as improving public participation in the initiation (e.g. petitions) and its scrutiny. It’s like that a lot of the solutions aren’t technological — they relate to the way we practice and fund democracy. For example, decentralised democracies may be more responsive, creating the imperative to seek greater devolution, subsidiarity and municipalism.
We’d urge caution before running to conclusions around online voting or ‘magical-thinking’ about tech solutions. Do the small things well: make sure there is high quality information and data about the democratic process accessible to all in open formats.
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