I hope the new year started well for you. In Germany, 2015 began with protests of "Pegida", an alliance of right-wing "patriots protesting against the islamisation of the Western World". As a result of conflicts within the alliance, the spokesperson resigned at the end of January and announced to establish a movement for direct democracy in Europe. Oh no, I thought, that's grist to the mill to those who oppose direct democracy with the argument that it enables the tyranny of right- and left-wing extremism.

For me the solution is to control direct democracy with norms that base on universal human rights and the freedom and dignity of every individual. In that way referenda on sensitive issues can take place even with low turnout quorums. This judicial control paired with low barriers to direct democracy will allow concrete outcomes, new laws and more effective decision-making.

As it seems to me right now, these high-quality forms of direct citizens' involvement are crucial for two reasons: Firstly, they are an instrument to realise citizens' political decision-making with the result that more citizens will feel included. Secondly, when people know what direct democracy really is about, it will be more difficult to misuse "direct democracy" for populist purposes. In this context, this newsletter and our next events (Global Forum in Tunis, see below) for more direct democracy in Europe and the world.

Best regards,
Cora Pfafferott

Referendum in Slovakia victim of turnout quorum
On Saturday, 7 February 2015, Slovakia held a referendum on the constitutional definition of the family and whether to only call the bond between women and men “marriage”. To be valid, 50 per cent (+1) of Slovakia’s eligible citizens had to participate in the referendum. Yet only 21.41 per cent of eligible voters (= 944,674 citizens) went to the polling stations.
New Navi for Direct Democracy
The Direct Democracy Navigator is a new research tool that currently features 1227 different instruments of direct democracy in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Image by Quinn Dombrowski, Wikimedia Commons  
2015: What kind of Europe? What kind of democracy?
A series of popular votes to be held this year will answer key questions about the future of Europe and its severely challenged democracies.
Registration open for Global Forum 2015
Democracy International now offers the possibility to register online for the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, to be held from 14 - 17 May 2015 in Tunisia's capital.
Democracy International's next General Assembly
will take place in Tunis on 16 May 2015. You can now register online.
Democracy International