GM Democracy Hub

GM Democracy Hub

Last Wednesday, Demsoc Manchester hosted the first Greater Manchester Democracy Hub, with The Politics Project. Aiming to identify, map and connect everyone working in the Greater Manchester region to improve democracy in innovative ways, we organised an event for those people to meet, share their work and network. Whilst there is a lot of wonderful work happening in this area, it seems that no one is aware of all of it, and even those with similar plans and ambitions haven’t crossed paths. We wanted to rectify this, as we think that collaboration and…Read more
Help create a more constructive debate about the shape of Greater Manchester

Help create a more constructive debate about the shape of Greater Manchester

  Deciding what we should build where always seems to stoke intense emotions and conflict. Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework set out plans for how land could be best used across the city region. The resulting consultation gave voice to a kaleidoscope of different concerns and interests but generated very little in the way of constructive discussion. With a consultation on a new draft currently planned for October, we thought now was a great time to ask how we create better conversations about the future shape of Greater Manchester. You can help us explore…Read more

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
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