Democracy International: In your opinion, why do we need to democratise the world?
Bruno Kaufman: Democracy means people power. More democracy means more people power. More people need to share power in order to allow for more equal life opportunities. Democracy means also decision after debate. We need to enable more democracy across the world, on all political levels by supporting all those people who are ready to share power and to actively participating in debates - in order to contribute to smarter and wiser decisions.
What is your view of the European Citizens' Initiative?
A fantastic opening into a more direct, more digital and more transnational way of democracy indeed. The idea and principle is great; though the currently offered procedure is still rather weak. So we now we need to review the initial practice, renew the ECI as such and reset the level playing field in order to make many more citizens across Europe knowledgeable about this tool to set the transnational agenda.
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?
There is certainly a gap between the mostly economic driven decision-making process on the global level and the more limited participative processes at the local, regional and national level. In other words, we have an imbalance between the limited reach of our democracies and the unlimited dynamics of a super-capitalistic world. The only option to have is to reinforce and to establish stronger and new forms of people power also at the transnational level.
In your life, what triggered your activism for more democracy and citizen participation? Was there a key moment in your life?
I was deeply impressed by a citizens' initiative I was involved in as nationwide coordinator in the late 1980s in Switzerland. We simply did propose to abolish the Swiss army and got a long and deep debate about a new security and peace strategy at the end of the cold war. More than one million Swiss and many foreigners across the world supported us. We lost the vote, but won the debate and we're called the happiest losers in the history of Swiss democracy. A truly empowering feeling :)
What is the next political goal you want to achieve?
Locally - in my hometown Falun in Sweden where I am the head of the democracy and election department - I want to further deepen and develop our municipal infrastructure for active citizenship and participative democracy. Nationally I am involved in a government commission to propose legal reforms of the participative system. In Europe a smart and efficient reform of the European Citizens Initiative is a main task ahead and globally I am deeply involved in establishing new forms of citizens media for democracy support.
What should Democracy International do to realise more democracy and citizen participation in the world?
Democracy International should continue to support and network with direct democracy activists across the globe and be a voice for true people power.
interviewed by Cora Pfafferott, 25 March 2015.