Networked European Democracy ready to start in Italy!

In attesa della versione italiana del sito, la descrizione del progetto in italiano segue quella inglese. In a delicate moment for Italy and its political situation, next week we will launch the first event of Networked European Democracy, an ambitious but practical programme that aims to deliver a better connection between citizens and European policy. We’ll bring discussion of relevant and current policy issues to the local level and our theme this year is the future of work and skills. This is also related to a key theme of the Festival dell’Economia 2018 in…Read more

Opportunità di lavoro – Responsabile Community & Engagement, Italia

Contratto tempo pieno per 9 mesi a Messina. Siamo alla ricerca di un Community & Engagement Officer innovativo e stimolante per fornire supporto locale per il nostro lavoro sul progetto "Le Agorà di Messina" a Messina. Con un'attenzione particolare alla costruzione di reti e all'impegno locale, il candidato ideale ha eccezionali capacità comunicative e relazionali e passione per aiutare i cittadini a partecipare in maggior misura alla vita civile. La passione per il coinvolgimento delle persone nel processo decisionale è importante, così come la comprensione dei dibattiti politici e delle politiche locali. Chi…Read more
Reflections on the European Citizens’ Panel

Reflections on the European Citizens’ Panel

Over the weekend, The Democratic Society was involved in the European Citizens’ Panel, run by the European Commission, with the support of Kantar Public (a market research agency) and Missions Publiques (a specialist citizen deliberation organisation). Bertelsmann Stiftung acted as academic experts. We helped with the design and facilitation of the event, which ran from Friday night to Sunday lunchtime, and a group of facilitators from the civil society network that we are creating on the European Citizens’ Consultation supported Missions Publiques with independent facilitation. These are my first reflections – I’m sure…Read more

Change at the Council: Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Today, The Democratic Society (Demsoc) and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) published a report titled Change at the Council: Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Funded by the Local Government Association (LGA), this report is the result of months of research conducted by talking to residents, councillors, council officers and partners about the good and bad aspects of the current system, and how it can be improved. We have looked at the way that the Council makes decisions and who is involved in making those decisions.…Read more

Reflections on a three month internship with The Democratic Society

In June we were delighted to welcome Alex Hrabinová to our office in Edinburgh to begin a three-month internship, which was enabled by the Erasmus+ programme. Having now returned home to Slovakia, we asked Alex to reflect on her time spent working with the Demsoc team. You can read about her experiences below. We're always happy to hear from people interested in working in the Democratic Sector. We are able to support occasional internship opportunities, but it's important to us that the placements are meaningful development opportunities and can fit alongside our existing…Read more

Event Alert: Democracy in action? – The Place of Referendums in Scotland and the UK

The referendum is, in theory, one of the best democratic instruments around.  One person, one vote. Direct Democracy in action. Look at Switzerland! However, when we look at referendums in more detail, we can be exposed to a very different picture. Are referendums being used within a democratic culture that generates positive democratic outcomes? Alistair Stoddart from The Democratic Society will speak on a panel about The Place of Referendums in Scotland and the UK in Glasgow on Wednesday 13th September 2017 from 5.30pm.   The event has been organised by the Centre…Read more
Mentoring for democratic innovation – a new way of working?

Mentoring for democratic innovation – a new way of working?

Democratic innovation can sometimes be challenging because people underestimate what it takes to run a successful process, but with strategic support these processes can be much easier to grasp, and with more confidence, much easier to deliver. In a recent project (Civic Activism Programme) in Northern Ireland we worked with our friends at Building Change Trust (BCT) and Involve to run a mentoring programme to support local democratic innovation projects. The aim of the Civic Activism Programme was to trial innovative ways of engaging with local communities, and BCT recognised that programme projects would…Read more
Helping parliaments get closer to the people they represent

Helping parliaments get closer to the people they represent

By Andy Williamson A key challenge for those trying to engage a broader public in parliamentary democracy is that the processes often appear closed and opaque (because, often, they are). The language is off-putting, the procedures cumbersome and unfriendly, and it’s hard to see what’s going on. It can be hard to see any value in taking part. Digital can’t fix thefirst problem (though it can help), it should improve the second (otherwise it’s pointless) and it can significantly impact on the final two. The internet has given us the opportunity for a genuine…Read more

Free but not that free: Is forcing citizens to exercise their democratic rights fundamentally illiberal?

Guest blogger Jane Zacharzewski on discussions about compulsory voting in Belgium. Last month, Belgium’s Movement Réformateur (MR) held their annual conference. As a liberal and conservative party within the French speaking community, MR prides itself on its fundamental liberal traditions, including equality of opportunity and respect for individual freedoms. Up for discussion: a number of proposed amendments to their manifesto.  The motion which attracted considerable media attention in the Belgian press and a heated debate on the floor proposed a change to the party’s position on compulsory voting. Belgium, along with Greece and…Read more

Recommendations for improving online consultations

How can the experience of online consultations, as run by central government, be improved? This was the broad question that Demsoc and Snook were tasked with exploring as part of a six-week discovery phase project for the Government Digital Service. GDS were clear that they wanted the focus to be on platforms – although you can never separate platforms and process entirely. The two organisations brought different expertise and research skills to the project: Demsoc sharing insight around consultations and policy making, and leading upon desk-research and expert interviews; with Snook using their…Read more