Atlas’ Freedom Marathon opened on the 15th of September 2021, on the international day of democracy. Following the first day’s events, we gathered again to discuss how to ensure that democracies don’t backslide. Indeed, the best way to promote democracy is to lead by example.
This is a recap of the second day: “Democracy is never won, but always remains to be won”!
Workshop | How do we hold countries to the highest democratic standard? Let’s discuss and create an action plan!
After an introduction by members of Atlas’ policy team, the audience proceeded to developing the ideas, debating them and extracting a concrete plan of action for each on a digital tool called padlet. In this workshop, some key ideas came out, including:
Introducing an obligatory "Political Education" subject or curriculum part (possibly history lessons) into the school curriculum
- Action plan: Check the voting age of the people in the country 2. Check the current "political education" level in the system 3. Copy a curriculum from a country with a successful political education (depending on place in the world, but in Europe it is Sweden or Finland) 4. Propose it to student representatives or education policy people in your country
(idea developed in day 1) Push Governments to have a Democracy Minister:
- This would mean working for democratic governments to have a secretary of democracy/minister of democracy in their governments. This minister would focus on the status of democracy in the country on a regular basis and recommend policy changes, and assess the country foreign policy and its ability to support democracy abroad, especially pro-democracy governments and pro-democracy freedom fighters, and file recommendations
- Action Plan. 1. Make list of democratic governments 2. Outreach to representatives with request to create petition; 3. Create a campaign to create the petition if no response though a. Mobilization, B. democracy correspondents in media outlets (see idea below)
Make democratic level a public policy goal instead of just a set of values
- Action plan: 1. Work to push political parties & candidates to campaign on increase transparency and democracy, so that they become the center of a campaign efforts, 2. Keep government accountable when they get into power
Citizens assembly on how to have the highest democratic standards
- Action plan: 1. test this idea in places where citizens assemblies are the case (Ireland etc), 2. conduct it, 3. implement idea, 4. understand how this will be the case in other countries
Promote diffuse leadership in government, to decrease the risk of democratic deterioration
- Action plan: 1. Develop a top-of-the-notch democracy with diffuse leadership (eg of Swiss model, with 7 heads of states and a lot of possibility for citizens to participate in referendum). 2. Once the model is proposed, a campaign should be launched in target countries to propose a new governance model -> this can take the role of petitions, referendum campaigns, or simply asking politicians/political parties to make it part of their electoral campaigns. 3. Such a change might take many years to take place in established democracies, but could be adopted way faster in newly-created democratic countries /countries in transitions and serve as a blueprint for the future of Democracy!