On 9-10 May 2023 in Bern, Switzerland, the parliamentary conference on ”Elections in times of crisis” focused on how voters´ choices are shaped by pandemics, warfare, terror attacks, natural disasters and new digital technologies. Organised by the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in co-operation with the Swiss Parliament, the event marked 60 years since Switzerland joined the Council of Europe.
In his keynote address, the Deputy Secretary General Bjorn Berge highlighted that the Council of Europe supports national authorities through its expertise, and its commitment to actively enable and encourage the democratic participation of every citizen, including the younger generation. A commitment to the standards and values of the Organisation that will also be at heart of the Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik next week, seen as a unique opportunity to address the democratic backsliding in Europe.
”We must do everything to actively enable and encourage the democratic participation of every citizen through regular, free and fair elections, even in crisis situations - because without elections, there is no chance for democracy at all,” the Deputy Secretary General said.
Welcoming addresses were made by Damien Cottier, Chair of the Swiss delegation to PACE, Chairperson of the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Martin Candinas, President of the Swiss National Council, Tiny Kox, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Claire Bazy Malaurie, President of the Venice Commission and Leendert Verbeek, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
In the margin of the conference, the Deputy Secretary General also met with Ms Livia Leu, State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland. He also had a meeting with the National Delegation of Switzerland to the PACE: Mr Damien Cottier, Chairperson, Ms Sibel Arslan, and Mr Niklaus-Samuel Gugger. Mr Claude Wild, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Council of Europe also attended above meetings with the Deputy Secretary General.