Lift13 Speaker Maximilian Stern on Collaborative Democracy

Sylvie Reinhard, Nov. 19, 2012

We are glad to announce Maximilian Stern, co-founder of foraus, the think-tank on Swiss foreign policy, as speaker for our "Future Democracy" session. Here is what Max will talk about:

Collaborative Democracy

Today’s democracy faces the challenge of providing more accountability towards the citizens it governs than ever before. People are no longer satisfied with being summoned to cast their ballots every four years, they want a say in the political projects that affect them directly.

But the peoples’ call for participation is not only one for more direct democracy: They ask for new ways to collaborate in and with politics when it comes to specific political projects. Apart from the technical developments in online-participation, politics needs to provide for new forms of interaction that go further than referenda and elections. Politics needs a permeable communication and an effective collaboration, as people want their expertise, their suggestions or their anxiety being recognized. And they want a direct and specific reaction from politics. The implementation of forms of interaction that live up to these new demands into the existing democracy leads towards a “collaborative” democracy. True collaborative democracy strengthens the acceptability of political processes and their results and at the same time speed up these processes. This form of democracy will be necessary when societies aim at undertaking large infrastructural programs with heavy side effects on a large number of people. A political venture that calls for collaborative democracy is the nuclear power phase-out and the corresponding high-voltage power grid through densely populated areas necessary to implement it in Germany.