Starting today, 93 randomly selected citizens from four cities will help prepare a nationwide citizens' assembly. Each person selected will take part in one of four online discussion groups of the Citizens' Assembly "Germany's Role in the World". The groups will each consist of 23 - 26 participants who will be tasked to think about the sub-topics for the citizens' assembly that begins in January. For the actual citizens' assembly in early 2021, people from all over Germany have the opportunity to be drawn by lot to represent a cross-section of the population.
For the agenda-setting online discussion rounds, medium-sized German cities were chosen to represent Germany’s east, west, north, and south. The cities of Chemnitz, Lübeck, Freising and Völklingen were selected at random. These cities randomly drew 400 people from their population registers, who were then invited to participate in the discussion groups. Ten participants per city were drawn from the responses. At just under 16 percent (100 responses to 1,600 invitations), the response rate was unusually high.
"At the Citizens' Assembly Germany's Role in the World, citizens are directly involved in setting the agenda. On the one hand, we want to narrow down this big topic in a meaningful way with politicians and professional associations, and on the other hand, we don't want to put anything in front of people at the citizens' assembly that doesn't interest them," Claudine Nierth, national board spokesperson of the association "Mehr Demokratie", explains the background of the online discussion rounds. Under the patronage of Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble, Mehr Demokratie is preparing the second Germany-wide drawn citizens' council together with the initiative "Es geht LOS" and the institutes implementing the project: ifok, IPG and nexus.
Last year in Leipzig, the Citizens' Assembly for Democracy, initiated by Mehr Demokratie and the Schöpflin Foundation, with 160 people randomly selected from all over the country, formulated 22 recommendations for strengthening democracy in Germany. These were handed over to Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble and representatives of all parliamentary parties in November.
The Citizens' Assembly for Democracy had recommended, among other things, that citizens be drawn at random more frequently to advise the government on current political issues. Bundestag President Schäuble had sought talks with the parliamentary groups about this and assumed patronage for the new citizens' assembly. The Council of Elders of the Bundestag agreed on the topic "Germany's role in the world". In addition to discussing the topic, the aim is also to test whether citizens' assemblies are suitable for supporting parliamentary work.
The online discussion rounds in preparation for the citizens' assembly will take place online from October 20 to 24. The results will help determine the agenda and content of the Citizens' Assembly on "Germany's Role in the World", which will meet over three weekends in January and February 2021.
More information: Preparation of the Citizens' Assembly "Germany's Role in the World