Germany will host the second nationwide sortition-based citizens' assembly. With the new citizens' assembly on the topic of "Germany's role in the world", the President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble, is assuming patronage for a new form of citizen participation in parliament.
The professional association "Mehr Demokratie" will organise the citizens' assembly, which will focus on the further development of the "citizens' assembly" format, in addition to the substantive issue. The association will have the associated companies IFOK, IPG and nexus as well as the initiative "EsgehtLOS" at its side.
This citizens' assembly is made up of a randomly selected group of citizens who are to discuss and develop recommendations for action with experts over ten online sessions lasting a total of 50 hours. The recommendations are to be presented in the form of a citizens' report in March 2021, so that they can be discussed in the Bundestag during this legislative period.
"Develop a suitable format"
According to Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Bundestag, the main aim is "not only to deal with the topic, but also to investigate whether such a new set of instruments is suitable for supporting parliamentary work and to develop a format suitable for Germany's conditions at federal level". If this citizens' assembly, which will be tried and tested as a model project, proves its worth, the parliamentary groups could discuss it in the coming legislative period. It would then be clarified whether this is a future-oriented format for parliamentary democracy and a decision would be taken on the possible continuation of this participation instrument.
The concrete questions posed by the citizens' assembly on Germany's role in the world are to be concretised by members of parliament in an exchange with experts, civil society and selected citizens. The first meeting of the randomly selected citizens is to take place in January.
"Added value for political groups and parties"
The recommendations of the citizens' assembly „provide information on what role Germany can play in the future and what tasks Germany wants, should and must perform. Such recommendations can provide added value for the political programmes of the parliamentary groups and parties in terms of concept and action“, says the concept of the organisers of the alloted citizens' assembly. Sortition-based citizens' assemblies are suitable for identifying solutions in society that are capable of securing a majority and thus supporting political decision-making.
The citizens' assembly is accompanied by academics in foreign and international politics and international law, and other experts if required. As specialist partners of the Citizens' Council, the scientists should ensure that the preparations and discussions in the citizens' assembly reflect the current debate and incorporate the findings of research. During the meetings of the citizens' assembly, experts, representatives of politics and society and those affected will be present to give facts and experiences to those drawn and to answer questions if necessary.
The role of the citizens
Before the start of the citizens' assembly ("agenda setting phase"), citizens who have been drawn by lot were able to propose additions and focal points to the agenda in online discussion rounds. The participants were able to adjust the agenda if necessary. In this way, they were meant to supplement or deal with aspects that seem important to them in more detail, invite further experts, but also shorten agenda items if they do not consider them important.
After the conclusion of the citizens' assembly, its recommendations are summarised, explained and published in a citizens' report. The citizen's report will be submitted to the Bundestag in March 2021 and be presented to the public.
Hearing in the federal parliament
After the citizen's report has been presented to the Bundestag and all parliamentary groups, the Bundestag has the opportunity to incorporate the results into its work. The Bundestag is completely free to use the recommendations. It would be desirable, depending on the recommendation, to deal with the results in the respective expert committees. It would also be desirable to discuss the format of citizen participation for the future work of Parliament in the Bundestag.