Democratic Odyssey

26 September 2023 - 30 September 2024
In collaboration with
Coordinator: European University Institute – School of Transnational Governance.
Financed by
Berggruen Foundation & Salvia Foundation
In collaboration with Particip-Action, Missions Publiques plays a pivotal role in the core consortium of the Democratic Odyssey. Our contribution to the project involves leveraging our expertise in developing and implementing a methodological blueprint for transnational citizens' assemblies.
The Democratic Odyssey is a crowdsourced action-oriented research project which focuses on the development of a prototype Citizens Assembly for Europe. It aims to address two fundamental questions: What should an ideal transnational and multilingual Citizens Assembly resemble? And can we turn this vision into a reality? To answer these questions, the Democratic Odyssey draws from a diverse array of perspectives and experiences contributed by a collective of participants from academia, civil society, practitioner networks, and political institutions.

Context and goals of the project:

Drawing from the insights gained through the Conference on the Future of Europe and the recently formed European Citizens Panels, the Democratic Odyssey is dedicated to collaboratively designing and piloting an innovative prototype for a transnational Citizens Assembly for Europe.

In other words, a transnational Citizens Assembly that is:

  1. Inter-connected, within a network of deliberative mini publics taking place across the EU.
  2. Neither top-down, nor bottom-up, but co-initiated, carried out and sponsored by a coalition of diverse actors.
  3. Adaptable to different European locations and configurations
  4. Fostering a sense of permanence within the European political landscape, while also fortifying existing institutions.

Why now? Global challenges and rapidly changing socio-technological conditions offer a chance for democratic innovation. However, these conditions also threaten democracy, leading to public discontent and political disengagement. The EU, too, faces the challenge of delivering effective action on critical issues of planetary importance, from climate to emerging technologies?

We believe the solution lies in empowering diverse citizens from all walks of life, with transnational citizens’ assemblies playing a central role in this democratic renewal. Throughout the EU, we witness the growth of Citizens’ Assemblies at local and national levels. Drawing inspiration from the Conference on the Future of Europe, the European Commission has taken significant steps by organizing multilingual citizens’ panels that involve people directly in the policymaking process.

But imagine the potential for something even more ambitious – uniting various initiatives and European institutions with European civil society.

What IS OUR ROLE in this?

Missions Publiques, in collaboration with Particip-Action, plays a pivotal role within the core consortium of the Democratic Odyssey. Leveraging our 25 years of experience in designing, conducting, and evaluating deliberative processes, we are actively involved in several key aspects of the project:

  1. We facilitate the Constituent Network’s work, offering essential insights for the collaborative development of a blueprint for a transnational citizens’ assembly.
  2. We support the European University Institute (EUI) in overseeing the initial stages of blueprint implementation, with a pilot program scheduled for September 2024. Our strategic guidance covers various areas, including the process of sortition/random selection and facilitator training.
  3. We help shape future research agendas related to transnational and multilingual democratic innovations, and we contribute to producing research outputs that address strategic aspects of the blueprint.
"The European Union, often seen as a bastion of liberal democracy, demonstrates both the fragility and the resilience of democratic norms. It is up to us to embrace the third democratic transformation and change the odds: imagine our strength if we became a ‘Citizen power Europe’ capable of mobilizing collective intelligence and agency at all levels, to respond more decisively to pressing global issues!

– Prof. Kalypso Nikolaidis

Added value of the project:

The Democratic Odyssey’s distinctiveness lies in its scope and character. While the past decade has seen considerable research and commentary on designing and implementing Citizens Assemblies and deliberative mini-publics at the local and national levels, the project stands out by focusing exclusively on transnational assemblies. It delves deep into the logistical and methodological challenges and opportunities inherent in multi-cultural and multilingual deliberation. The core question it seeks to address is how to ensure inclusivity, accountability, and high-quality deliberation within a multilingual setting.

This crowdsourced, action-oriented research initiative, through its Constituent Network, aims to provide answers to these questions. It is designed to be radically open and transparent, welcoming participation from a wide range of stakeholders spanning various sectors and disciplines, without any barriers. This approach transforms the Democratic Odyssey into a diverse Flotilla of contributors, each offering unique insights and perspectives on democratic innovations. It presents an exceptional opportunity for an open and inclusive dialogue about the future of democracy in the European Union.

Interested in joining the Constituent Network of the Democratic Odyssey? Reach out to Camille and onboard the Odyssey ship!
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