Habeck advocates citizens' assemblies on COVID-19 crisis

Nadine Stegemann

In a post on his website at Easter 2020 (since deleted), Robert Habeck, then Federal Chairman of the Green Party in Germany, spoke out in favour of setting up citizens' assemblies in which randomly selected citizens discuss the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis and formulate recommendations for action.

"Crisis time is - in principle it is everywhere - one in which the country rallies behind the government. But we are a country of responsible citizens, and what we learn from the crisis should be negotiated with and between citizens. It would be a great sign for the federal government to establish future alliances, assemblies after the crisis, in which randomly selected citizens discuss what they have experienced, deliberate on consequences for the time after and draw social conclusions. Get the knowledge, the experience, the ideas of the people!" writes Habeck on his website.

"Presumably, such assemblies would first have to meet digitally and in video conferences. But that doesn't argue against them. We have all practised that with each other now," the Green leader continues. "We don't even have to wait for the government. What we have to do is open up the space of debate again. A liberal democracy thrives on the collective struggle for the best solutions. In that sense, too, the last few weeks were an exceptional situation and must remain so. We must now begin to discuss what we have learned, how to proceed, what comes next and: what a policy of possibilities would probably make possible."