Democracy International: In your opinion, why do we need to democratise the world?
Arjen Nijeboer: Democracy is necessary for freedom. People should be able to decide on their own lives as much as possible. This usually also guarantees the best decisions. For many reasons I'm not in favour of a world state or even a European state. This may be a good solution in the far future but to install it now would only create disaster. There are better ways to solve the problems of globalization.
What is your view of the European Citizens' Initiative?
It is a weak instrument and it currently serves the EU elite more than the citizens.
The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. Do you see a connection between the social economic crisis and citizens’ participation? What should be done to fight this development?
Democracy can help with solving social economic problems but it is not enough. People have to develop their views and values. I believe we must move to a whole new social order in which for example the private trade in nature, labour and capital is ended. We are far away from this currently.
In your life, what triggered your activism for more democracy and citizen participation? Was there a key moment in your life?
I realized that direct democracy would increase self-determination and equality of citizens and could work as a tool for further social change.
What is the next political goal you want to achieve?
Currently, only members of the established political parties have a chance to get higher government jobs such as mayor. This is against the Dutch Constitution and we are working to change this.
What should Democracy International do to realise more democracy and citizen participation in the world?
Democracy International should especially foster the development of pro-democracy NGOs in as much countries in the world as possible, and think about totally new ways to organize international cooperation. It would be a mistake to just export the national state model to the international level.
Interview by Cora Pfafferott