This Wednesday 13 January, a Citizens’ Assembly on Germany’s role in the world, supported by the German Bundestag will be kicked off. It will see 160 citizens who were drawn by lot and are selected to be as representative as possible of Germany’s population as a whole discuss and propose policy on topics of peace and security, economy and trade, democracy and the rule of law, sustainable development and the European Union.
The Citizens’ Assembly will take place over the next two months and will be held completely online due to the pandemic.
The Citizens‘ Assembly takes place under the patronage of Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble and is organized by the association Mehr Demokratie, in cooperation with IFOK, IPG and nexus as well as the initiative "Es geht LOS".
Over ten online sessions from 13 January until 20 February, the 160 citizens will discuss and develop policy recommendations in exchange with experts. These recommendations will be available in the form of a citizens' report in March so that they can be discussed in the Bundestag before the end of this legislative period.
Citizens drawn by lot
The 160 participants of the Citizens’ Assembly were drawn by lot from the population registers of randomly selected municipalities. They are intended to represent Germany on a smaller scale and so characteristics such as gender, education, which state they come from, how big the town they live in is and migration experiences of the participants were taken into account.
Germany’s role in the world
The randomly selected citizens will discuss "Germany's role in the world" a theme that was selected by the Bundestag's Council of Elders. In addition to getting citizens’ input on the topic, the goal is also to test whether citizens' assemblies are suitable for supporting parliamentary work in general.
Five specific thematic areas were identified by civil society, experts and with citizen and parliamentary input: sustainable development, economy and trade, peace and security, democracy and the rule of law and the European Union.
Patronage of Bundestag President Schäuble
The results of the Citizens’ Assembly on Germany’s role in the World will be handed over directly to the German Bundestag.
The idea of a Citizens’ Assembly stems directly from the recommendations of the civil-society-organized Citizens' Assembly for Democracy in 2019, a democratic experiment initiated by Mehr Demokratie and the Schöpflin Foundation. The Citizens Assembly for Democracy formulated 22 recommendations for strengthening democracy in Germany that were handed over to Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble and representatives of all parliamentary groups in November of 2019.
One of the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy was that citizens be drawn at random more frequently to advise the Parliament. Bundestag President Schäuble sought talks with the parliamentary groups about this and assumed patronage of the new Citizens' Assembly.
As Bundestag President Schäuble said in June, in addition to working on the topic of Germany’s Role in the World, the aim is "to explore whether such a new set of instruments is suitable for supporting parliamentary work and to develop a format suitable for Germany's conditions at the federal level."
Claudine Nierth, spokeswoman for the Federal Executive Committee of Mehr Demokratie, adds, "This model project can serve as a basis for the Bundestag to decide whether citizens' assemblies should be used regularly as an advisory body for parliament. We are confident that the upcoming citizens' council will convince the members of parliament.”
+++ Opening event of the Citizens’ Assembly: Wednesday, January 13, 6-9 PM CET +++
Attending the Citizens’ Assembly: The Citizens' Assembly will take place entirely online for those drawn by lot. The moderators and some of the experts, on the other hand, will meet in a specially equipped studio at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, in compliance with Corona safety measures. The media have the opportunity to follow the Citizens' Assembly meetings online and offline. The studio atmosphere is suitable for sound and film recordings.
More dates and information on attending the Citizens Assembly: deutschlands-rolle.buergerrat.de/en/press/press-coverage-at-the-citizens-assembly/