DemocracyNext believes in a more just, joyful, and collaborative future, where everyone has meaningful power to shape their societies.
We are an international non-profit, non-partisan research and action institute. Our mission is to shift political and legislative power to people. We advocate for, design, embed, and empower Citizens’ Assemblies as defining institutions of a new paradigm of citizen-led democracy.
Our fundamental guiding beliefs are that everyone should have agency, dignity and equal political power, and that governance systems should be designed to bring out our collective wisdom and enable us to find common ground. We believe that by tapping into the ideas, energy, and collective wisdom of everyone, we will be able to better address societal challenges, overcome polarisation, and strengthen trust.
Visionary — We don’t just tinker at the margins of the status quo. We seed the change we want to see.
Rigorous — We rely on evidence and expertise.
Humble — We listen, iterate, pilot, evaluate, adapt.
Collaborative — We work together with partners, build coalitions, involve citizens.
Research — We conduct research and write think pieces and essays, advocate, participate in conferences and events.
Action — We partner with institutions and organisations to implement projects geared towards changing parts of the system to show what is possible.
Learning — We create tools and build capacity for the next democratic paradigm and the principles it is built on to spread further.
We believe new democratic institutions should be governed by 3 defining principles:
Participation rights and responsibilities ensure that everybody has both the possibility and the duty to decide on substantive issues. It gives people agency and restores their dignity, recognising that everybody is equally worthy and capable of influencing decisions affecting them and their communities. A sortition-based system with rotation at all levels of government implies that in principle everybody will have multiple moments in their lives when they will be asked to serve on Citizens’ Assemblies. It also applies more broadly to citizens’ rights to initiate propositions for new legislation, for repealing existing legislation, and for direct votes via referendums under certain circumstances.
Representation 'by lottery' (sortition) enables equality of political power. It is a fair and equitable way to form a diverse, inclusive, and broadly representative group of people. Inherent to the idea is also rotation – that we take turns representing and being represented, since we can’t all be involved in all decisions all the time. Sortition is also the most sophisticated form of constituting a group, better-suited for large communities than small ones.
Deliberation creates the conditions for people to grapple with complexity, tap into collective intelligence, and find common ground. Creating the conditions to bring people together in times of division and polarisation can help to strengthen social cohesion. Deliberation also provides legitimacy to public decisions in a democratic system.
We can’t just replace elections with sortition in our existing parliaments. The machinery of the current system is designed around elected representatives and would not be best suited for citizen representatives. We need new democratic institutions that harness society’s diversity to create collective intelligence. That give people control over their lives. That strengthen trust between people. That help us find common ground. We don’t want to change the rules of the game; we want to change the game.
Citizens’ initiatives, crowd-sourced policy-making, open assemblies, and referendums are an equally important aspect of the next democratic paradigm.
We have replicated the oligarchic governance arrangements with which we are familiar. When we talk about democratising governance, we tend to think about creating ways to elect members, or to vote fairly and transparently on decisions. We want to democratise the governance of institutions beyond governments through sortition-based processes: from public and central banks to businesses; from public broadcasters and tech platforms, to museums and other cultural institutions; from company boards to trade unions; from political parties to cooperatives. Their decisions also affect our lives; they can and should be democratised.