May 17

European youth express strong support for Citizens’ Assemblies

Today we are proud to present the first results from our own barometer – the European Youth Panel – which currently include 120 young persons from 32 countries. The panel addresses political ideas and concepts, and gives young people the opportunity to challenge conventional barometers and attitudes that define current political leadership.

This first survey focus on the possibilities and challenges of Citizens’ Assemblies, a concept that has received increasing attention in recent years. The idea received a prominent place among the proposals developed at the International Youth Conference 2019 and have since then been an important focus in the work of the Think Tank, including a comprehensive research overview written by our Research Fellow Jonathan Geib.

In practice, Citizens’ Assemblies are chosen randomly – accounting for gender, age and other factors to ensure similarity to the citizenry as a whole. They deliberate current political issues and are given the time and resources to explore them. Finally, the assemblies give recommendations to politicians on the course of action.

We asked our panellist whether they believe that such institutions, as a compliment to parliaments, can have real influence, and whether they can improve the quality and legitimacy of political decisions. The results from our panel shows a strong support for Citizens’ Assemblies, with 80% agreeing that they indeed would improve the quality of political decisions.

The survey is not merely quantitative, to the contrary respondents are strongly encouraged to elaborate on their answers, many of them providing invaluable insights on the topic at hand. As an example, one of our respondents value Citizens’ Assemblies because:

… they provide an effective means of “confronting people with hard choices” and getting the public to engage with the issues “from an informed perspective”. They can help government ministers make tough choices by giving them a sense of what an informed public want, what they feel is fair, and what they could accept, thus potentially unlocking politically difficult issues.

The results from the European Youth Panel are an important part of the think tank’s overall policy proposal development process, the IYTT Bottom-Up Policy Advise Loop, and the panel results will be discussed further at our lunch event series Lindholmen Democracy Talks, premiering in September 2021.