Citizens' Assemblies

Many democracies around the world have been plagued by various disturbing developments. Some of the most prominent are an increased political and societal polarisation, decreasing trust of citizens in the institutions of representative democracy and democracy as the form of the government itself, as well as decreasing voter turnout. Therefore, to ensure their longevity, democracies must reinvigorate themselves. We believe that the democratisation of democracy and a more comprehensive and frequent involvement of the citizens in the will-formation and decision-making processes by means of citizens’ assemblies could be a part of the solution. This innovative participation form offers the potential

  • to strengthen citizens’ relationship with the democratic system and thus their trust in institutions;
  • to reinforce the feeling of emancipation and thus work to counter political disenchantment, while generating new output variants and thus a new democratic legitimacy;
  • to counteract mounting political and social polarisation by addressing controversial and polarising issues.

Find out more in our study below, co-written by Prof. Wolfgang Merkel, Prof. Andreas Schäfer and Dr. Filip Milačić. Available both in English and German.


Citizens' assemblies

Merkel, Wolfgang; Milačić, Filip; Schäfer, Andreas

Citizens' assemblies

New ways to democratize democracy
Vienna, 2021

Download publication (400 KB, PDF-File)



Merkel, Wolfgang; Milačić, Filip; Schäfer, Andreas


Neue Wege zur Demokratisierung der Demokratie
Vienna, 2021

Download publication (420 KB, PDF-File)

News and Activities around Citizens' Assemblies


Citizens' Assemblies: The Relevance of Random Selection

Rijeka's Citizens' Assembly • Filip Milačić

The selection of participants represents an important pillar of the legitimation of each citizens' council. Citizens are chosen by random selection from the entire population of the city, region or country, depending on the level at which the citizens' council is organized. However, with a large population (e.g., at the national level) pure random selection poses the risk that the desired diversity of participants is not achieved. Senior Researcher for Democracy and Society, Filip Milačić, explains how the process of selecting citizens for Citizens' Assemblies can follow an egalitarian and inclusive process. 

Read here.

Picture Credit: © Smiljana Radović Lagator