2022 Global Forum Draft Programme

The 2022 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy will see a mix of traditional conference panels and workshops, but also excursions and opportunities to experience direct democratic practice on the ground. See the first full draft below.

Register now to join us in Lucerne!



16:00-17:30    Global Forum Democracy Walk: Welcome to Switzerland and Lucerne - introduction to the fascinating history and contemporary reality of modern democracy      


Co-hosted by SWI


From 17:30: Registration and Apéro Riche                                


19:00-21:00 Opening Evening: All in for a democracy that works

Location: University Luzern


Host Organisations of the 2022 Forum:

Swiss Democracy Foundation, Democracy International, City of Lucerne, University of Lucerne


With welcome talks and cultural inputs including Theater Kids Lucerne “The Lion and the French Revolution” and the Federation of Swiss Youth Parliaments FSYP



Location: Neubad & Laboratorium


From 8:00: Registration


09:00-10:30    Welcome and Opening Panel on the Present and Future of Modern Democracy in Times of Multiple Global Crises


10:30-11:30    Panel: How Can Direct Democracy And Deliberative Democracy Make Each Other Better?


One constant problem for citizens assemblies, and other forms of deliberative democracy, is impact. The powers-that-be often frustrate efforts to turn the important ideas and proposals from deliberative bodies into real laws, votes, and constitutional amendments. This is not a problem for direct democracy, and ballot/citizens initiatives, which allow the people to change policies or take action directly. So what if we were to combine the two? Could creating processes that involve both citizens assembly and citizens initiatives for the voters help us marry deliberation and direct action? What models currently exist in the digital and non-digital worlds for such fusions of deliberative and direct democracy? And what would the ideal direct-deliberative system look like, if the goal were to invite more of civil society into governance?


Presented by Berggruen Institute


11:30-12:00: Coffee break


This track is about a host of innovative methods to strengthen democracy. We’ll look at technology, new opportunities for collaboration, and citizens’ growing social and cultural expectations that they themselves will participate in decision-making. What are the best ways we know now to better draw on the intelligence of the people? How can we increase deliberation, especially in the digital world? How do participation and co-determination tools need to be interlinked and combined in such a way as to make them useful for a resilient democracy of tomorrow? 


Co-Hosted by Mehr Demokratie



12:00-13:30    1.1. Panel:  By the many! How to democratise democracy in the 21th century.

With technological and societal advances, both the possibilities for democracy and the expectations of democracy have grown. The demands for more direct democracy and citizen participation are growing louder around the world. How can we use both new, digital tools and old concepts of democracy, such as lottocracy, to create more resilient democracies? 


13:30 - 14:30: Lunch


14:30-16:30    1.2 Workshop: How and why do citizens' assemblies work?      

“Lottocracy” is the buzzword. The best-known form is citizens' assemblies. In these new democratic spaces, academics sit next to craftswomen, pensioners next to young people, locals next to immigrants. Their task is to jointly propose solutions to political and social problems. How and why such assemblies work will be explained in this workshop.


14:30-16:00    1.3 Workshop: How does digital democracy work in local communities?

Democracy and the city have always had a special relationship. In one city - Athens - the idea of democracy was born. Individual cities brought democracy through the Middle Ages. And even today, cities provide the most important impetus for the digitalisation of democracy.

From New York to Madrid, from Paris to Buenos Aires, cities are trying to make their interactions more open, transparent and participatory with the help of modern technologies. Many cities have recently started using Consul democracy software. Consul revitalises urban, digital discourse and empowers citizens to shape the fate of municipal interaction themselves. Learn exactly how this works in this session.


16:30-18:00    1.4 Workshop: Transparency laws - the path to an open society

The prerequisite for any participation is free information. Those who cannot easily find out about state affairs are discouraged from truly participating. So finding paths to a more open, democratic and inclusive society requires more transparency. What are transparency laws? Where do they already exist and what do you need to consider when calling for more transparency?  These and more questions around transparency policy will be brought to your attention in this workshop. 


16:30-18:00    1.5. Workshop: Europe - Continent of Participation          

What democratic answers can Europe offer to the appeal of autocracies? Maybe just a big promise! Not just the promise of individual economic freedom but the great promise of true participation and co-responsibility. Europe might soon be a place where citizens have not just a voice, but also real power to shape communities and society. This workshop will show the way to this reinvented Europe.



The climate challenge is also a challenge for modern democracies.


As governments and social movements search for effective ways to tackle the climate crisis, they are increasingly turning to direct and participatory tools of democratic engagement. The expectations associated with these tools are varied. Does citizens’ deliberation lead to more radical policy measures? How much consensus do we need to pursue societal transformation democratically? And do democratic and participatory tools legitimise policy decisions—or create more doubts about the interests behind them?

This track looks at ways to best harness these tools both for effective climate action and strong democracy. What are the impacts we can expect of different instruments and what are the risks and trade-offs? How can we choose the most suitable methods of participation for a specific context? How do citizen participation tools interact with other forms of democratic engagement, such as social movements or civil society organisations? And how can we organise effective international knowledge exchange on these topics?


Co-Hosted by the Stiftung Mercator, Germany



12:00-13:30    2.1. Workshop: Finding the right tool for the job: Innovative citizen participation for climate action    

Many instruments are being developed to  better engage with the “silent majority” of citizens, at the local, national and supranational levels. These instruments include public consultations, focus groups, citizens’ assemblies, and participatory budgeting. Many of these are actively applied in the climate debate, both by governments and civil society. In this workshop we’ll look at which instruments suit which contexts.   


12:00-13:30    2.2. Workshop: Citizens’ Assemblies on Climate: lessons from around the globe     

Citizens’ assemblies have proven a particularly popular tool to address the climate crisis. In recent years, we have witnessed climate assemblies from the local to the global level in a variety of implementations. From Tartu to the State of Washington, from Spain to Denmark to the COP26 Climate Conference. What are the lessons-learned from these diverse experiences? What are the opportunities and pitfalls? What are characteristics of a good citizens’ assembly process?


13:30 - 14:30: Lunch 


14:30-16:30   2.3. Panel: Tackling the climate crisis with more democracy     

The climate crisis has given rise to strong calls for participatory tools of democratic engagement. In this panel, we will investigate why the climate crisis specifically has generated such momentum for direct and participatory democracy. We will discuss expectations and impacts linked to different tools of participation. And we will look at how instruments of democratic engagement can be successfully linked to the work of social movements and civil society.


 16:30-18:00    2.4 Workshop: The climate engagement geography: Effectively linking democratic participation, civil society & social movements             

Civil society organisations and social movements are important players in shaping the discourse on the climate crisis and in mobilising public pressure on political decision-makers. While some civil society actors welcome more deliberative practices of citizens’ engagement in climate policy, others fear it as competition to the involvement of organised civil society. This workshop looks at the role deliberative practices of citizens’ engagement can play vis-à-vis civil society and social movements in the political arena. How can complementarity and effective linkage look?


16:30-18:00    2.5 Workshop: Climate on the ballot: Leveraging local direct democracy for global action 

Around the globe, citizens have sought to use direct democracy to enforce  binding decisions on climate change, especially on the local level. However, the climate crisis does not stop at city or country borders. How can direct democratic action on the local level engender impact on the global level. 


The pandemic has stress-tested our democratic institutions. Now it’s time to take stock of how we do democracy. How can we build good supporting infrastructure for our democracies? Who has the right to take part in decision-making? How can we include young people and the rights of future generations? To answer these questions, we will invite participants to do comparative work, considering the experience of their own community in contrast to what we are learning about our host country of Switzerland, and our 2023 Global Forum host, Mexico, to ground our thinking.


Co-Hosted by Swiss Democracy Foundation & Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs



12:00-13:30    3.1. Workshop: Promising forms of youth participation in Europe        

The workshop “Promising forms of youth participation in Europe” will treat best practices of youth participation and demands from young people for their successful implementation. We will discuss these best practices from central Europe in a global context and try to see, how these possibilities could spread globally.


Co-hosted by Federation of Swiss Youth Parliaments FSYP


12:00-13:30    3.2. Workshop : Bringing Smart Tech into Big Democracy          

Co-hosted by the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs 


13:30 - 14:30: Lunch


14:30-16:30    3.3. Panel: For the many: democratic inclusion and infrastructure


16:30-18:00    3.4. Workshop: The Direct Democracy Navigator - The Starting Point for Information, Facts and Comparative Analyses about Direct Democracy Laws Worldwide  

The Direct Democracy Navigator is a unique open information platform, gathering the characteristics of over 2000 direct democracy instruments around the world on the local, regional, national and transnational levels. In this workshop, we’ll look at how the navigator is being used, and at its potential as a resource for research on the basis of three concrete examples. 


Co-hosted by the Direct Democracy Navigator at Liechtenstein Institute


16:30-18:00    Workshop: How democratic are algorithms?                  

Co-Hosted by Algorithmwatch Switzerland



Increasingly we are facing challenges that are transnational in nature and can only be tackled on the global level. However, on this transnational level, direct and participatory democratic instruments are still lacking. How can citizens participate effectively in global decision-making? How can we create synergies between local and national models of democracy and the transnational level? How can digital tools be used to strengthen global democracy?​    


Co Hosted by GloCo & Democracy International


12:00-13:30    4.1. Panel: Building a Global Democracy "Now is the time for transnational democracy.” ​

 We have urgent global problems, and we also have the technology to build a global democracy to let people try to resolve them.. ​ So why haven’t we? What obstacles stand in the way to creating digital-based governance that crosses borders?  What elements are needed to build democratic infrastructure on the global level? ​How might global popular movements play a role? What is the role and responsibility of nation states? ​


13:30 - 14:30: Lunch


14:30-16:30    4.2 Workshop: What (digital) tools do we need for a transnational democracy?

To rise to the task of global challenges, we need to build democratic infrastructure that surpasses national borders in a way that radically differs from international relations today. Yet, certain key activities will remain relevant. In this workshop, we will jointly identify the 2-4 key elements of transnational democracy and discuss them in groups in order to define what will be needed.


Co-hosted by GloCo


14:30-16:00    4.3. Workshop: The European Citizens’ Initiative - Understanding campaigner challenges and the value of an online support platform

The workshop will aim to gather an in-depth and practical understanding of campaigner experiences including challenges faced by backers of citizens initiatives. The support infrastructure of the European Citizens’ Initiative—from the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum, to the Central Online Collection System—will be detailed and considered. The feedback from this workshop will be used to improve the existing support tools for future ECI organisers. ​   


Co-hosted by Democracy International


16:30-18:00    4.4. Workshop: Transnational Democracy from the top or from the bottom?

What are the pathways towards achieving more democracy past the nation state? Do we work “Top-down,"  by working to democratise existing multilateral institutions such as the UN, the EU and others? Or can we build a global democracy ourselves, alongside existing institutions​.


Co-hosted by GloCo


16:30-18:00    4.5. Workshop: Democracy under threat - civil society action across borders

Around the world recent advances to democracy are being reversed, but democracy activists continue their work. What does international solidarity mean in this context? How can democracy activists around the world support each other? What are the potential roles of local communities, democratic regions, and nation-states in collaborating around democracy protection?​


Co-hosted by Democracy International




18:30-21:30  The Global Forum Networking Evening   


Location: Neubad Pool   






Day excursions and programmes in different Swiss cities including Bern, Aarau, Uster, Basel, Lucerne (and others)


Beginning in  June, registered participants of the 2022 Global Forum will be able to sign up for one of the offered excursions online. The programmes will differ from city to city and include specific elements related to local modern participatory and direct democracy practice. 


Here a first list of appetisers:

  • Where it all started! Visit to the first Swiss capital and its current practices including research (Aarau)
  • The federal centre of modern direct democracy in Switzerland and its new information centre (Bern)
  • Looking beyond national democracy from a innovative city in Eastern Switzerland (Uster/Zurich)
  • The struggle for inclusion in a city where almost half of the population has no voting rights (Basel)
  • Assessing 175 years of direct democracy practice and ways to strengthen democracy in the future (Lucerne)



Location: University Lucerne


From 8:30: Registration


09:00-10:30    Wrap-up plenary session: Reports from the 4 tracks and the Tour de Suisse

10:30-12:00    Panel: How to Save Democracy        


For about 15 years we have witnessed democratic degradation and the rise of authoritarian governments everywhere. Compounded by the Corona pandemic and Russia's war against sovereign Ukraine, the crisis of democracy is acutely worsening. This makes it all the more necessary to introduce measures to protect and strengthen it.


Now the weapons are talking, and many European countries are facing a wave of armament and militarisation. Around the world, we the people are being called upon to fight for democracy ourselves, and to defend and strengthen freedom. What does it mean to live in a world of do-it-yourself democracy? How can citizens work with each other, and sometimes governments, to protect and extend democracy?


Co-hosted by SWI


12:00-13.00    Concluding Plenary session: 

Concluding keynote and presentation/adoption of Lucerne Declaration on Modern Democracy



15.30-17.30    2022 Democracy City Summit  (special registration)


Lucerne City Hall Kornschütte


Welcome by Lucerne Mayor Beat Züsli and Christian Hochstrasser, president of city parliament 

Contributions from worldwide Democracy City representatives 

Cultural input by Theater Kids Lucerne “the Lion and the French Revolution”


Co-hosted by City of Lucerne


Evening    Come-together     


At City Hall Brewery                                                 



Swiss National Voting Day


With programmes at different locations  (special registration)