New Democracy #16: Who’s afraid of The People?

What are the pitfalls of democracy? And what strategies and tools can we use to overcome them?

Socrates once said that democracy itself will lead to the election of demagogues and dictators. Witnessing today’s events one could claim he was right.

What are the pitfalls of democracy? Is an electoral representative system in a media era inevitably leading to populism? Is a welfare state bound to end up in the erosion of the sense of community? Will the growing reliance on bottom-up initiatives and DIY promote inequality? New Democracy discusses the dark sides of democracy and its institutionalization. More important we challenge ourselves to come up with strategies to avoid the possible negative effects.

Special guest is Hille Hinsberg, co-organizer of the landmark Estonian project ‘The People’s Assembly’. In 2012 the Estonian Parliament questioned how they could make Estonian politics more democratic. Together with civil society organizations the online platform The People’s Assembly was initiated in order to crowdsource new legislation on political parties, the electoral system and citizen engagement. Co-organizer Hille Hinsberg will share her experience with this innovative method that generated 6.000 policy proposals from which 15 have been presented to Parliament and 7 have been accepted.

Dick Pels is a sociologist and political writer. He is former director of the think-tank of the Dutch political party Groenlinks. He has worked at the universities of Amsterdam and Groningen, was research fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, visiting professor at the University of Cape Town, and until 2002 professor at Brunel University in London. Since 2003 Dick works as freelance writer for several Dutch magazines and is often asked political commentator on television and radio. His most recent books are: Het Volk bestaat niet. Leiderschap en populisme in de mediademocratie (2011) and A Heart for Europe (2016).

A perspective on the state of Dutch and European democracy is given by Godelieve van Heteren who actively works on the development of democratic alternatives and stronger forms of citizen engagement. She is director of her organization Europe Arena, which is a network organization that facilitates public debate on the future of Europe, and president of the Europese Beweging Nederland (EBN). Godelieve is also senior health system expert and was member of Dutch parliament from 2002 to 2006 with an extra focus on European and international affairs.

Firoez Azaroosh is a community builder and social entrepreneur. He was co-founder of the Meevaart, a community center in Amsterdam East that is largely based on the principle of self-governance. Firoez has fulfilled different management functions related to the topics of participation and co-creation inside governments as well as civil society organizations. He has established himself as an expert in community building, urban renewal and an innovator in creating new methods of participative governance and cooperative forms of social entrepreneurship.

Organized by Netwerk Democratie in collaboration with Pakhuis de Zwijger.
This event is in English.
Location: Pakhuis de Zwijger, Kleine Zaal, Piet Heinkade 179, Amsterdam
Entry is free, please sign up via Pakhuis de Zwijger. You can also attend on Facebook.

This event is part of the Dutch digital democracy project of the Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties together with Netwerk Democratie and Waag Society. It is realized as a part of the European Citizens Crowdsourcing (EUCROWD) conference organised by Netwerk Democratie. The EUCROWD project has been funded with the support of the Europe for Citizens programme 2016 of the European Union.

The next day, 15 March, the EUCROWD International Conference (NL version, organized by Netwerk Democratie) will take place: Crowdsourcing a new European Democracy. 12:00 – 16:00.

>> Watch the livestream:

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