Organising local citizens' assemblies

23. January 2024

On 23 January 2024, the professional association "Mehr Demokratie", together with the Institute for Democracy and Participation Research (IDPF) Wuppertal and the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) Potsdam, published a comprehensive guide entitled: "Organising local citizens' assemblies - handbook for the path from the initial idea to the implementation of the recommendations".

Mehr Demokratie has been advising on this topic for years, and most citizens' assemblies take place at municipal level. Initiatives, administrative staff or local politicians repeatedly approach the organisation with questions, e.g. on initiating the process, expected costs or criteria for suitable questions. Mehr Demokratie is now offering a comprehensive guide to complement the consultations, which is aimed equally at initiatives, administrations and politicians as well as process designers and organisers.

The entire process is considered

There are a number of international guidelines on the subject. However, these are mostly limited to the implementation of the sortition procedure or the organisation of citizens' assembly meetings. In our experience, however, the greatest need for expertise is in the preparation and follow-up of a citizens' assembly. The fact that the entire process is considered is a unique feature of the new handbook.

The handbook draws on the experience of more than 40 "experts by experience", i.e. people who have been involved in citizens' assemblies in various roles, including politicians and administrative staff, former participants, academics, process designers and moderators. The handbook is therefore not only based on scientific knowledge, but above all on a great deal of practical experience.

Citizens' assemblies remain a field of experimentation

Nevertheless, there is no "one right way" to prepare and implement citizens' assemblies. Such mini-publics are still a field of experimentation and, unlike citizens' initiatives, for example, are not formalised. However, the handbook certainly offers a very good introduction to and overview of the topic.

Handbook "Organising local citizens' assemblies": Download (PDF, German, 180 pages) Order for free


In the podcast Politikverschossen, handbook author Steffen Krenzer and author Susanne Socher explain its creation, content and benefits.

Series of events 2024

In four in-depth events in 2024, the editors focused on the individual phases of the citizens' assembly process and presented the key content of the handbook.

06.02.2024 : Initiation and clarification of objectives

This phase lays the foundation for the process. It includes the clarification of objectives and tasks, the creation of an organisational framework and the identification of topics. This is where the political decision-makers decide on the citizens' assembly project, after which service providers are commissioned to implement it.

27.02.2024: Concept development and preparation

The focus here is on the selection and support of participants, the creation of an agenda and the organisational preparation of the meetings. Intensive involvement of all stakeholders is crucial here.

12.03.2024: Conducting the meetings and public relations work

This date deals with the implementation of citizens' assembly procedures, including the development of recommendations and knowledge building. The role of moderation and public relations as a cross-cutting issue will also be discussed.

26.03.2024: Dealing with the results and follow-up

In the transfer phase, it is ensured that the results of the Citizens' Assembly are used in political practice. This includes handing over the recommendations and organising transfer events as well as monitoring and follow-up.