Democracy study calls for more citizens' assemblies

Philipp Reiss (CC BY-SA 2.0)

"Citizens' assemblies must be able to contribute their expertise more often to counteract the segregation of political elites and institutions." This demand is stated in a democracy study by the Körber Foundation, which was published on 10 December 2021.

According to the study, "Democracy in Crisis. A wake-up call for renewal in the face of the pandemic", only 50 percent of citizens in Germany have confidence in democracy. 30 percent trusted it less or not at all. Trust in public institutions and bodies is also not particularly strong: only 32 percent of those surveyed had confidence in the Bundestag and the Federal Government, and only 20 percent trusted political parties.

"Dramatically reduced trust endangers cohesion"

Germans' confidence in science (67 per cent) and the Federal Constitutional Court (55 per cent) is still strongest. This was shown in a representative survey commissioned by the Körber Foundation and conducted by the opinion research institute policy matters in October 2021.

"The dramatic decline in trust in the state and in science is endangering cohesion, and there is an urgent need for action here," says Sven Tetzlaff, Head of Democracy, Engagement, Cohesion at the Körber Foundation, commenting on the survey results. "A new citizen orientation of politics is needed: decisions must be explained, dialogues must be conducted at eye level and more participation must be made possible."

Don't let larger minorities drift away

"A democracy cannot afford to let larger minorities drift into fundamental opposition, resignation or anger. If such developments are accompanied by a massive loss of rationality and lead to fascist, mythologically or religiously influenced fundamentalist or even esoteric conspiracy-theoretical thinking, democracy is at risk," says philosopher and former Minister of State Julian Nida-Rümelin. Together with the Körber Foundation, he has published the study "Democracy in Crisis. A Wake-up Call for Renewal in the Face of the Pandemic".

The study's call for citizens' assemblies, among other things, coincides with the survey results. A majority of 71 percent of the respondents favoured the inclusion of citizens in the decision-making process of important political decisions. Especially in areas close to the citizens, large majorities of respondents considered citizen participation to be useful. According to the Körber Foundation, municipal issues were at the top of the list with 84 percent, followed by education policy (76 percent) and climate protection (70 percent).

Read more: Study "Democracy in Crisis. A Wake-up Call for Renewal in the Face of the Pandemic"

Image licence: CC BY-SA 2.0