What is the capital of democracy

Democracy Capital: Strengthening Co-Determination in Europe

It was Graz, Linz too, and in 2024 it will be Bad Ischl: European Capital of Culture. The focus in the focus year is on cultural initiatives and should be an opportunity for cities to show what they can do in this area. Cities scramble for the opportunity to participate. You can present yourself externally and address tourists who otherwise might not have the affected city on the travel list.

"Stage for Democracy"

The Capitals of Culture have existed since 1985, and now the capital of democracy is to be proclaimed based on their model. The initiative is not an EU activity. Behind it is the Innovation in Politics Institute, based in Vienna and Berlin. The aim is to make cities a "stage for a living democracy" and to invite citizens from all over Europe to participate.

The starting shot will be given on Friday in a video conference. At the invitation of Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) there would have been a meeting in the Vienna City Hall. Due to the corona, it was moved to the virtual room. The patronage lies with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica.

The aim is for the selected capitals to become "beacons of civilization" in the corresponding year. "We want to create a space in which the citizens of Europe can come together, get involved, experience new forms of real democracy in action and be inspired by a comprehensive program," says the description of the project.

Best practice examples

In many European cities there are already democracy initiatives that are being brought to the front of the curtain. For example, the citizen participation platform "Bonn macht mit!" There was, for example, a transparent dialogue on drawing up the city budget, and another on improving the cycling infrastructure.

Another example is the efforts in Budapest to develop a climate strategy with the involvement of the residents. 10,000 citizens were randomly invited to work on the plans.

Vienna is part of the European Capital of Democracy Initiative with the "Werkstadt junges Wien" as a best practice example. In 2019, the largest child and youth participation project in history was carried out in the federal capital. 22,500 children and young people contributed ideas and suggestions for the future of the city of Vienna in 1,300 workshops in schools, kindergartens, training workshops and youth centers. The strategy for children and adolescents arose from this.

The Vienna City Councilor for Education Jürgen Czernohorszky (SPÖ) says about the STANDARD: "Democratic cities are successful cities if they seek social equilibrium and enable participation."

Start in January

There should be democracy capitals from 2021. It is not yet clear which two cities will be involved in the next year. The selection will take place after the founding event in autumn. There are already many interested parties, it is said that they will exchange ideas with a committee of experts in order to make the decision. Citizens are to be included in the process from 2022. 10,000 people from Europe, who represent the population, will act as a jury and decide which two cities will be chosen each year.

The initiators do not necessarily want to tap into EU funds. There is already interest from private individuals, foundations, interest groups and from business to support the initiative financially. (Rosa Winkler-Hermaden, September 17, 2020)