On December 4-5 The Good Lobby Head of Global Partnerships Kelsey Beltz and Project Officer Gabriele Sorce attended the Third Forum on the Future of Democracy: Beyond a Minimal Democracy in Milan, organised by Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli and Phoenix Horizon Project. The conference, which featured six different working groups, discussed the role of Democratic Innovations in addressing some of the current threats to democracy and elaborated on the role of citizens as key players in revitalising it.


The Role of Media: challenges and opportunities

How can citizens identify and counter disinformation, polarisation, and pollution of the public discourse? How can the media be used as an amplifier of healthy democratic practices? These were the guiding questions discussed in working group 6, where Kelsey led the discussion with a group of students and experts. 

Kelsey brilliantly guided participants to deconstruct the role of the media in all its facets, focusing on emerging issues such as social media and AI, and the ways in which citizens may be empowered to turn these threats into opportunities. Ultimately, awareness raising and education were identified as pivotal to ensure that citizens become “watchdogs” that are able to use the media to increase the quality of democratic participation. In this way, social media and AI could become amplifiers, rather than attenuators, of Democratic Innovations and participatory processes.

Bottom-up: Going local to reach global

In a world where challenges keep extending their reach up to the global level, and where citizens feel increasingly disconnected from their institutions, how can we make sure that citizens’ assemblies are able to inform decision-making? Addressing the impact of citizens’ decisions was one of the key topics in working group five, where Gabriele played an active role in the discussion. The group urged the need for assemblies and mini-publics to have at least a degree of agenda-setting and evaluation powers, in order to perform political scrutiny during the entire policy cycle.

The future of Democracy? Citizens’ Involvement

Through the combined efforts of experts and participants, the conference has been an interesting forum of discussion and action aimed at the revitalisation of our Democracy. Against the backdrop of the atrophisation of democracy, democratic innovations and citizens’ involvement stand as the only answer to the uncertain path that democracy is taking. Democracy can unleash its full potential only when citizens’ are involved beyond the mere vote. 

How can we institutionalise participation? How can we connect politics, citizens and social movements? How can we facilitate crowdsourcing democracy? Reflecting on these thought-provoking questions at all levels is only the starting point of a path that will lead us to our future democracy: an inclusive, sustainable and effective political system where citizens are involved at all levels.


Phoenix: next steps

We at The Good Lobby will never stop working towards this aim! In the coming months, we will be busy planning a major meeting in Tartu, Estonia, where participants of the Phoenix Horizon project’s eleven Democratic Innovations will meet to discuss citizens’ participation efforts under the project’s framework.