“Democracy is the key-issue for any society in our time. Citizens are the sovereigns. They want to have a say on politics. They do not want to be treated as subordinates any longer. All over the world people fight for more democracy, transparency and participation. While Western and especially European leaders articulate their democratic beliefs, we face a strong tendency towards more centralised and technocratic decision-making. De-democratisation of political decision-making, especially on the transnational level is an alarming trend. Every day more political decisions are made without any direct influence by the citizens. Lack of legitimacy and people’s alienation of politics are the consequences. Real democracy means binding democratic procedures and fair electoral voting that give power to the people as they can make the political decisions themselves”, states Gerald Häfner, chairperson of Democracy International and Member of European Parliament.
The International Day of Democracy is held annually on 15 September. On 8 November 2007 the general assembly of the United Nations had decided to raise public awareness of the importance of democracy each year around the world. On 15 September 2013 the International Day of Democracy is commemorated for the fifth time. This year’s theme is “Strengthening Voices”.
“People need strong voices, but more importantly: their voices must be heard. That is why they need instruments with which they can shape their lives themselves. In Spain and Greece we have seen many voices that stood up against the European Union’s austerity measures. Now it is time to let Europeans decide. An EU convention and EU referenda are the right means for this purpose.
In a real democracy sovereignty comes from the citizens. So the important question in a modern political system is: How do citizens delegate sovereignty to politicians – and how can we assure that they can take decisions directly, by themselves” explains Gerald Häfner.
Democracy International, also the „global coalition for direct democracy“, has started preparing a campaign for a new EU convention to be led by a broad alliance of young Europeans, academics, entrepreneurs and civil society representatives. Core demands are that the members of the EU convention are elected democratically and that the convention has adequate time for serious and thorough deliberation including proposals from civil society. The draft proposal that the EU convention will elaborate is to be ratified by referenda in all EU member states.