The votes are in. Readers of the Danish Newspaper JP has elected “Democracy” to be the best idea in the world. Even above ideas like “freedom” and “love”. In Assembly Voting we work to improve and redesign the framework of democracy and we couldn’t agree more with the readers.
Democracy is a fantastic and valuable idea, and even though - as most people know – democracy has its challenges, only a very few people want to be without.
The very thing that democracy is constantly being challenged and must adjust to, for example new life styles, economic fluctuations, world orders etc. might be the reason for the viability of democracy. An inclusive and rooted democracy is a living and present democracy, which is constantly able to create arenas where the tough decisions about our common society can be debated, contested and decided.
At the same time this means, that democracy cannot be taken for granted and neither can it be regarded as something static. As professor Mihail Larsen from European Institute in Firenze emphasizes in JP, democracy is under increasing pressure around the world:
»Democracy cannot be taken for granted. It is something that needs to be fought for and kept alive, through amongst other things a nuanced and critical general public. »
Democracy is not just under pressure outside of Europe. Even though the participation at the general elections in Denmark is very high, the situation looks a little different, when we look upon the local democracy in e.g. user boards and councils. In these democratic institutions the participation is generally low and even declining.
It is a general problem for the common democratic education, where you learn the ground rules in the democratic dialogue and organization. It is also a problem in the particular decision process that the basis for local democratic decisions, rest on a limited input from a small part of the representatives.
One of the reasons for this development in the local Danish democracy is that the methods and organizations of democracy haven’t adequately managed to evolve with our new way of living. We still have to show up in a classroom or in a clubhouse some Wednesday in October, even if the calendar does not permit it. Furthermore communication about and understanding of local political work between these meetings are very limited.
We in Assembly Voting are working to update the methods and accessibility of local democracy in a changed everyday life, where new media and new communities play an increasing role. It’s all about redesigning the democratic practice without compromising the ground rules of democracy.
The experiences so far show, that it is possible to gain a significant increase in participation in local democracy by changing the democratic practice. For example, we have managed to create a higher number of formal suggestions, more democratic dialogue and a much higher voter turnout by digitalizing the framework for dialogue, debate and voting.
In the light of these experiences we are confident in the future of local democracy and happy that we have the opportunity to make the best idea in the world even better.