Poll Results November 2019

Youth Panel Pilot

Question 1

Young climate activists—often too young to vote—are calling for immediate action in response to scientifically grounded expert advice, which at times clashes with the extensive processes of democratic representation. Would you support downplaying temporarily the importance of democratic decision-making and legitimacy founded on democratic representation in order to achieve quicker science- and expert-backed action to mitigate the climate change consequences?

68% Yes

29% No

3% Other


Elaborated answers

Yes. For two reasons. 1) Climate change is the only issue that truly scares me. It eliminates all the hope of solving our other issues as a world; if we don’t get this right, we won’t have the chance to get anything else right. 2) I would argue that it isn’t anti-democratic to listen to so many people. Although many are not of voting age, such a large number of people should be taken more seriously. Democratic representation shouldn’t just exist to represent the people who voted, it should be to represent everyone, especially those who are politically active. Young people can be politically active even though they cannot yet vote.

Democracy is not the problem, but a reform is needed. In my opinion, short-term bias is one of the main problems of the current political system. Politicians want to win elections, thus seek immediate positive outcome and reject long-term solutions that require short-term opportunity costs. Besides, voters themselves are commonly less concerned about long-term issues, and the interests of future generations are not taken into account. Honestly, I am not sure about the way this could be fixed, but technocracy, that has been widely considered in global governance, is not the answer for me – historically, (benign) authoritarianism has not shown better long-term decisions. I believe there is a path to speed decision-making and overcome political myopia without moving beyond democracy, and it is our duty to explore it.

Yes. We cannot wait for people to get educated enough or for them to care enough to react on something as important as this problem.

Yes. Climate change is the most urgent threat to humanity and political systems should be set aside for a moment. It is true that only democracies can support and work for preserving the planet but we have only 11 years to stop the global temperatures for rising. So, I think young activists are doing a great job by uniting people for an earthly cause.

No. Democracy is more important than anything else.

Yes. I think that direct action is needed, and democratic processes can be slow – perhaps too slow, in this case.

Yes. I think that it is very important actions like these because enhance democratic decision

Yes. The current environmental problem could be considered as an emergency situation in which states must take action as soon as possible. Nevertheless, despite the fact that democracies is the political system from the people, to the people; it is true that it is not the most effective regarding its velocity to implement policies, but it is the wider accepted. On the other hand, democracies have already downplayed temporarily the importance of democratic decision-making and legitimacy in emergency situations such as the Second World War or national crisis. So, if we consider the environmental issue as an emergency problem, which it already is, then, policies must prevail over the bureaucracy of the democratic systems.

Yes. We need strong measures in order to reverse the climate change.

Yes. I support this argument as it is for the greater good of the environment and population of the world. I would deem this decision moral, so long as it is done for its intended purposes and not for ulterior motives, i.e. corruption, personal gain, crack down on opposition, etc. Further to this, should this not be followed through for the appropriate reasons, the highest legal institution of that state should get involved and enforce action, so that those who did not comply would have to face the law and justice in regards to their inappropriate and/or uncalled for actions. Moreover, an option to avoid the downsizing of democracy would be to hold referendums in regards to solutions and mitigation regarding climate change. Finally, should the downplaying of democracy take place, it should, without a doubt, be restored to its full size and potency once these propositions regarding climate change have been passed and are actively in place.

No. I believe that is important for young climate activists to stand up for their beliefs. There is no doubt that we have to take action. The clock is ticking and we remain idle. Nevertheless, they are too young to vote and most of the times they could be unconsciously manipulated. As far as I am concerned ,it is better to promote at that age an eco-friendly way of life via their school activities.

Yes. Young people have really been left out in decision making, climate change is an important issue that needs commitment both from the government and the youths hence involvement of experts will be of more use.

No. Although taking actions against climate crisis is more important today, a successful implementation of a climate neutral agenda in the upcoming years should come as a product of democratic (and legislative) procedures in order to have the necessary legitimacy and involve all the countries.

No. In my opinion, legitimacy, democratic representation and decision-making should never be minimized, whether in the short or long term. Indeed there is no guarantee that a reduction of these latter give more concrete actions per se. Do not take my judgment wrong: I do consider that climate change is a key issue and needs to be addressed immediately. However, remember that we are living in a multi-level environment: European, national and regional (to schematize). (Leave aside the Chinese or American issues). Today, at the European level, there are several institutions that have their own environmental policies: Parliament is the most active in reducing CO2 emissions (-40% by 2030) while the Commission targets only 30%. Parliament is elected by the people and must represent it. In my recent interviews with MEPs and EU Commissioners, I felt this will to fiercely protect the environment. The biggest problem is the national level: the EU lacks certain powers to constrain its member states. Poland and especially Germany still use coal which pollutes enormously. Fortunately, the regional level is gaining more and more power and continues to implement more ecological policies (free transport network, shared electric cars, return of the night train, Flixbus etcetera). In addition some countries like Sweden (where I had the chance to study in Uppsala) gave birth to Flygskam or « the shame of taking the plane »). To sum up, I think that if we want to keep protecting the environment, we must continue to demonstrate, to sign petitions that the EU (with 1 million signatures) will translate into a draft proposal. I think we must take your time and study what has been done, what is being done and what can be improved.

No. If we were to allow children to participate in the modern democratic system, then we must also consider the future effects this could have. There hasn’t been a single point in time where everything was swell and just the fact that the world still has issues today doesn’t mean that we should dismantle modern day institutions. What few people realise that there is a lot of money to be made in “saving the world” and so a better solution to solving the monumental issue of global warming isn’t dismantling and modifying the, historically, best political system (in this I’m not saying that its without flaws), nor is it to go out on the street and protest as we have seen in France with the gilets jaunes, the solution is to do what every great negotiator does, know the person your dealing with more than yourself. It can be seen in multiple studies how environmental concern is higher in more developed regions of the world on a general basis and so, based off of this information we can propose solutions to the US, to the EU that would spike the interest of the rich and powerful, because if they were to invest more money in developing regions, just as China is doing (which is paying off for them) then they could reap the same benefits allowing them to continue being able to compete with other international superpowers as well as helping the environment in the long term. This is just one example of many mutually beneficial solutions that can help the environment both in the long and short term.

Yes. Many politicians today are in the pockets of big industries with big money, so they may be pushing a certain viewpoint because it suits their personal interests. Thus, it can be said that politicians are not acting in our own best interests, which seems to be the case in the US. However, we must not undermine democracy. I believe it would be good to find a middle-ground between democratic decision-making and legitimacy, and the uptake of science and expert-backed action to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Yes, however rationale MUST receive wide dissemination to mitigate the inevitable damage to democratic discourse within the short term. It would also be my preference that an emergency people’s assembly be gathered to respond to this rationale and public.

Yes. No matter the age, people should stand for the climate change and get into action and fight against this catastrophy. Everybody can stand out and support, even young children at the elementary school can learn to have new habits for recycling, lower power consumption etc. Plus, of something is democratic, it means it can support and work in favor of everybody. So although the representation is made from just one person, or it happens fast enough, it can still be democratic and truly support what most people are interested for.

No. I consider it important to have a weight and a measure for every action that should be taken. It is important to put the dishes on the scale and understand which weighs more. And in this particular situation I think the plates are balancing and the two positions are important. It is undeniable that the entire population is suffering from climate change and that something has to be done urgently. However, none of the actions to be taken should be based on radicalism, as past experience shows that this tends to go wrong. In this sense my opinion is that there must be a balance between what is proposed and the measures that are taken.

Yes. I think there are some emergencies, like climate changes, that need solving as soon as possible so it is impossible to wait for the solution through the slowness of democratic process. Moreover, I think that this slowness of democratic representation and bureaucracy is at the same time an alarm bell of the crisis that affect our democratic systems and contributes to enlarge it

Yes. Unfortunately, when it comes to our planet we can not dedicate a lot of time in discussing. On the contrary, we have to take action, as soon as possible. Therefore,I am inclined to believe that when we have to take a decision about our future, every second is invaluable! We should find the right balance between democratic processes and drastic measures!

Yes. I would downplay democratic representation in this instance as too often political institutions are slow to act and climate change is an urgent problem facing our planet which we cannot ignore. The fact citizens who cannot vote are having to call on our elected representatives to actually do something about climate change demonstrates how through representative democracy sometimes our officials do not actually represent us.

No. One of the main challenges supranational entities have its their democratic accountability. In my opinion, we should work on promoting efficient and more democratic mechanism, no matter what is the problem. In the case of the climate change emergency, we should prioritize it in the agenda, but reforms should be done thru representative, democratic, open, and legal means.

No. Immediate though the actions may be, they still have to come from the democratic process.

Yes. This question assumes that by meeting the demands of the young climate activists, there is therefore a need to reduce democratic decision-making. However, the demands stem not only from younger activists, but also those of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds from across the world. In fact, it could be argued that through governments not acting in a faster and more radical way on these issues that it is in fact undermining the democracy of a country, as the demands of the people – which are, and should be, in the best interests of every human on this planet – are not being met in a timely and satisfactory manner. However, I do support action being taken that may be viewed to ‘undermine’ the democratic authority of a government and legislature, in that a reform or law which has been devised by legitimate bodies (such as scientific experts, heads of NGOs and commissions) ought to be prioritised and pushed through parliament without the need for extensive debate from members of parliament which continue to block such vital reforms. Countries such as the UK have correctly named climate change to constitute a National Emergency, but yet since then little significant reform has been realised, and thus we see groups such as Extinction Rebellion continuing to protest to highlight this lack of action. Therefore, this suggests that radical change is necessary, which could be in the form of reducing democratic decision-making, but still using legitimate and trusted bodies to do so.

Yes. Greta et al should be backed up by scientists, isn’t there a consensus behind her?

Question 2

Trustworthy information and sound knowledge are foundational for an open society and to facilitate citizens' and decision-makers’ informed choices. Last week when the Internet celebrated its 50th anniversary, Facebook launched a special news tab: parallel to its established news feed, Facebook will now highlight articles that the site thinks its users should be reading. In your view, does this Facebook news tab contribute to the better or the worse for an open society?

26% Better

48% Worse

32% Other


Elaborated answers

It is not the idea of the content but how it is established per se. I think this topic is just the premise of what’s really going on behind it. I recently published an article about Huawei, Facebook, and the dangers of social networks. The problem of this new content is not to offer content per se but rather the way it is considered interesting content. Indeed Facebook is using more and more artificial intelligence to delegate some of its activities. The problem is that it is not possible to anchor in these artificial intelligences values, norms or the sense of ethics inter alia. We have the same problem with autonomous cars: between an old person on the road, an animal and a child, on whom will the car continue to move forward? The other danger of artificial intelligence is that it can communicate with another artificial intelligence or can be used for espionage purposes as Huawei does today. When we look at Mark Zuckerberg’s interviews at the US Congress, it is clear that Facebook is not ready to deal with these topics and yet it is launching new initiatives like this content. To sum up, I think that caution should be exercised and it is necessary to read our content from academic literature, traditional newspapers and especially to cross the sources.

In my opinion this holds great potential for good and bad. If the algorithm generates content purely off of interest, then this could be a useful tool for individuals to become more informed in their chosen field, however, if it generates content following Facebook’s own agenda then this could be extremely damaging. As the prevalence of fake news increases and trust in corporations is forced to be increased as we become ever more reliant on them. It places companies like Facebook in a position of power and influence, the likelihood for this to be abused would increase the longer it exists. Making this technology yet another double edged sword for the digital generation to navigate.

Neither but maybe more biased.

Depends on the information that is intended to be used.

Worse. Based on their track record and their unwillingness to make an end to fake news on their platform, Facebook shouldn’t be trusted with making decisions about disseminating information.

Worse. Firstly, I think people shouldn’t be getting news from Facebook. It is a conspiratorial hub and people and companies pay for the advertising to target people. Remember the U.S presidential election of 2016. The whole election became suspicious due to the information company Cambridge Analytica and the Facebook was put on trial by the U.S Congress. The U.S has an open society but it election got rigged thanks to Facebook. Secondly, highlighting articles that site thinks people should be reading is a dictatorial move by the company. Is Facebook allowing sites to collect people ‘s interest-based information, that’s the main question. Nonetheless, this is a new marketing strategy by Facebook and people will become vulnerable especially people living in an open society.

Worse. Facebook’s algorithms can be dangerous and may suggest things that will not really benefit the open society – also, it gives Facebook a lot of power (even more than it already has)

Better. Because help us to highlight on important issues

Worse. In spite of providing more accurate information to the users, as already has occurred, Facebook is using users’ private data to develop huge marketing campaigns that will have a bigger impact on their lives. So, this personalisation of tabs does not contribute to the better for an open society due to the fact that it violate one of the most important rights that underlie in an open society which is the right to privacy.

Worse. Facebook is not a source of information for people

I agree with the statement, however, the stance which Facebook is taking isn’t an adequate response to this. We very much should be reading accurate sources and information regarding issues across the globe. We can look back at history and see how this has negatively affected people’s judgement due to misleading sources and fear-mongering, as was the case with the EU Referendum in the UK in 2016, and the rise of populism in the US and European Continent. Independent institutions (as not all governments across the world would offer unbiased versions of this) should offer mini-courses/guides/adverts regarding how to be analytical with information online and the signs to detect the rising phenomena of ‘fake news’.

Better. Because it will help in growth economically.

Better. I would agree on this new FB policy as a temporary action against the extensive use of fake news and political propaganda (especially before elections). But continue allowing Facebook (or any other dominant social media with a huge influence) to feed us with any information it wants is a serious backstop in the freedoms that an open society represents.

Neither. For two reasons one can’t argue neither in favour nor against the prior statement. Firstly because in the end it’s a Schrödinger’s cat situation, it’s not as though Facebook’s system is going to be all that different from normal news systems and so there you are left with the same question but about news; does the news contribute to society positively or negatively and in this case the true answer is negatively because in the end, it has been proven, that the vast majority of people will listen to what they want to hear and if people want to hear what the lies say you can’t force them to listen to the truth. This roots down all the way to how the schooling system creates a false belief amongst people that their ideas are a part of them and so you should defend these as though you are defending your life. You can see this clearly in any discussion where you see that people know this deep down but because of how they’ve been wired they struggle to keep an open mind. The second reason is the fact that social networks such as Facebook work with algorithms that, as Tom Scott explained at the British royal institute, will always, even if perfect, cause issues for the modern-day world.

No opinion yet – this depends on the community so I will wait to see what what the response is.

Worse. Facebook uses algorithms to suggest and present content which the user will like. Thus, this can be worse for an open society because if someone is has a ‘profile’ of liking ‘fake news’ and far-right views, then their Facebook feed will become an echo chamber of these ideas.

This can be both for a better and a worse cause. If the site is being paid to promote some articles, then for sure this decision works in favor of them. On the other side, if the site is independent and truly wants its viewers to read the important news from a critical scope and without following anyone’s orders, then it will be for a better purpose. However, personally i believe that people will always read whatever they choose by themselves.

Better. From my point of view this was a great idea, if of course best applied. From the outset it is thought that its implementation in the fight against fake news is a great danger to our society.

Better. I disagree about the possibility of gathering Big Data through the net and, as a consequence, I don’t appreciate this new Facebook tab because I don’t think that there can be any advantages for society. Most of young people uses the net to deepen their knowledge but also to discover new things and fulfil their curiosity and, personally, I want to overcome my limit continuously without being labeled by my choices or preferences.

Better. Regarding objectivity and data privacy are guaranteed through these actions, I truly believe that people could be well informed by social medias. Taking into consideration the fact that people spend a specific amount of time daily scrolling in their Facebook page it would be quite interesting to see how these articles could affect them. As a result, our society will become a better place.

Worse. I believe that Facebook is actually undermining the values of an open society. To a great extent, I believe it is wrong that they have done this because as a large corporation Facebook has a lot of influence to push their agenda on members of the public. I believe the true value of an open society is one where corporations do not have a larger voice than the rest of society.

Worse. Facebook might be corrupted, it is for profit, can business law ensure this else?

Worse. I understand that personalizing articles might be useful for users to optimize their time in a frenetic world, but it certainly does not contribute for an open society that embraces pluralism and alternative ideas. Facebook’s decision does not explicitly hide any article, but it helps reinforce the ‘ideological bubbles’ we live in, which make us lose perspective and be more closed-minded.

Facebook ads are a main challenge for humanity. Artificial Intelligence thru different algorithms target supposed “preferences” for the members. I believe that this could be inductive to create false preferences and opinions. We cannot leave Facebook to create an opinion for us, neither to filter&sort what we should read or not. Last but not least, Facebook could be very positive so members have fast and diverse information, but it could be used for wrong means when constructing algorithms to make people think in a specific manner.

Worse. Since Facebook personalises content, it’s to easy for people to isolate themselves in a bubble of opinions similar to theirs and refuse to see any other perspective

Worse. In recent years a light has increasingly been shed on the powerful impact which social media algorithms have on influencing the way that citizens think, in particular with politics. Documentaries such as ‘The Great Hack’ effectively exposed the extent to which data is being collected on individuals and how this data in turn can be sold to companies which will target advertisements to them. My greatest fear on this topic is that this concept would be transposed and further perpetuated, but now with the news article tab. One of the greatest downfalls of social media is that it creates a bubble: people tend to engage with posts that align with their own political, social and cultural views which is also fuelled by the algorithms as previously mentioned. As a result, people both intentionally and unintentionally (due to the algorithms) restrict themselves from keeping a broad mind and seeing alternative viewpoints to that of their own, and thus this often leads to political polarisation within societies. This is because people then become more dismissive to differing viewpoints which can foster negative sentiments towards those who don’t hold the same view to them – as seen in the Brexit campaign and US 2016 Presidential election. Therefore, to improve the open society the tab should not be based upon the ‘articles that the site thinks its users should be reading’ which will ultimately arise from the same algorithm causing political swaying, but rather ones which provide an objective mix of articles which reference both right and left wing agendas.

The number of respondents to this survey was 31.