The European Institute of Romania (EIR) is involved within the framework of a consortium coordinated by CEPS Brussels in the project called Towards a Citizens’ Union (2CU) which takes place in a three year period (September 2017 – August 2020), bringing together a total of 20 think-tanks of 18 European countries.
A series of research papers, having a national perspective, would be produced within the project on topics such as: direct democracy, representative democracy and democratic responsibility. The project also involves the participation in a series of academic events in various EU Member States in order to disseminate the preliminary and final results of the research.
Thus between 14 – 15 June 2018, a project meeting took place in Athens, Greece, dedicated to the direct democracy topic of research, prepared by each national team. Within this meeting we had the privilege of representing the EIR.
The first day was dedicated to the analysis of the preliminary versions of the research papers, a series of ideas emerging as regards the evolution of direct democracy, as follows:
- Most of the paper show that there is an ever growing demand for the use of the direct democracy tools. On the one hand we assist to an increasing demand for the use of the direct democracy toolbox while on the other hand to an increased opposition toward the same toolbox. It is not possible to eliminate the demand for direct democracy;
- The direct democracy is used many times for less than good goals by the political leaders. The credibility of the direct democracy is affected by the fact that it is used by the populist forces. They use the direct democracy toolbox in order to promote their own agenda;
- In the future, the direct and indirect democracy would have to merge. The more public participation forms are the better for the direct democracy;
- The direct democracy should be separated as regards the unrestrictioned majority (it cannot be a way to restrain the minorities’ rights).
The second day was dedicated to the dissemination event organized by ELIAMEP – the Greek think-tank partner. The conference called Dilemmas of Democracy: Is there any meaningful role for citizens in Europe? presented and discussed the problems faced by contemporary democracies in Europe and the possibilities of activating citizens and revitalizing direct democracy. Amidst the speakers were: Mr Loukas Tsoukalis (ELIAMEP President), Mr Christos Dimas (deputy, New Democracy Party), Ms Nina Kasimati (deputy, SY.RIZ.A Party), Mr Kostis Papaioannou (former Chairman, National Commission for Human Rights), etc.
The ideas presented tackled various topics such as:
- It is difficult to understand the way in which individual voters can have a saying in the European decision-making process, and due to that the turnout for the European Parliament elections is a low one;
- National governments blame the European Union when they need to identify scape goats for the international problems their states have to deal;
- How the multinational democracy can be reconciled with the increase of the nationalist feeling, in a world where the societies are more and more divided?
- Irrationality has become a common element of today politics;
- Democracy is reinvented by the populists, through the message they support in the public space;
- We need to develop various forms of participation, in order to include those who are excluded.
For further information regarding the project, please visit the specific section on the EIR website
For further information regarding the debate, please visit the ELIAMEP website