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E-democracy projects

Forum History


The Forum was established by the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe  (Warsaw, May 2005), to strengthen democracy, political freedoms and citizens' participation.


Forum previous sessions


(Limassol, Cyprus, October)

Interdependence of democracy and social cohesion.

New: Proceedings

"Radical measures taken in many countries to try to balance public budgets are both necessary and understandable” but  “Countries are running a high risk of seriously undermining the European model of social cohesion.”  declared Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland while opening the Cyprus Forum.


(Yerevan, October)

Perspectives 2020 Democracy in Europe - Principles and Challenges



''The Council of Europe has a unique strategic role to play in strengthening good democratic governance at all levels in the European space''. Democracy, or rather good democratic governance, is now not only intrinsically linked to the respect of human rights but is also recognised as the most effective form of governance to ensure stability, sustainability and well-being.

 That was the main message of the 2010 Forum.




(Kyiv, October)

Electoral systems: strengthening democracy in the 21st century


 "In a genuine democracy, the citizen is sovereign and the voter decides" - that was the main message of the 2009 Forum, which highlighted the need for greater public involvement, with a view to increasing voter turnout and ensuring that all stages of public life are democratic..




(Madrid, October)

"E-democracy: who dares?"


The discussions addressed the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on democracy.




(Stockholm, June)

"Power and empowerment - The interdependence of democracy and human rights"


This event addressed issues such as the role and responsibilities of the opposition, representative democracy at the local and regional level, empowerment of the individual and non-discrimination, respect for freedom of expression and association for civil society, and fostering democracy, human rights and social networks.




(Moscow, October)

"The role of political parties in the building of democracy"


The Forum reflected on  the role and responsibilities of political parties in finding democratic solutions to contemporary challenges, the interaction between political parties and with other actors in the democratic process, and the building and strengthening of democratic institutions.



Launch meeting (Warsaw, November 2005)

"Citizens' participation"



The discussions addressed the state of contemporary democracy in Europe.


Previous projects


Democratic institutions work")


Strasbourg, 24 October 2011

Forum for the Future of Democracy
13-14 October 2011, Limassol, Cyprus

The Interdependence of Democracy and Social Cohesion
Strengthening representation and democratic participation
through public dialogue and civic engagement

Including speeches and presentations given at Limassol
(being progessively updated)

Day 1: Thursday 13 October

9.00 – 10.00 Registration

10.– 10.45 a.m. Opening of the Forum for the Future of Democracy 2011

      × H.E. Demetris CHRISTOFIAS, President of the Republic of Cyprus

(text of speech: English, Greek - audio recording)

      Addresses by:
      × Thorbjřrn JAGLAND, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

(Text of speech: English, French - audio recording)

      × Kostyantyn GRYSHCHENKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers

(text of speech - audio recording)

      × Lenia SAMUEL, Deputy Director General, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission

(text of speech - audio recording)

      × Andreas CHRISTOU, Mayor of Limassol and Head of the Cypriot delegation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

(text of speech - audio recording)

Introductory panel debates:

10.45 –11.45 a.m.Fighting the crisis without undermining social cohesion: can Europe meet
the challenge?
(texts of panel speeches - audio recording)

Chair: Sotiroula CHARALAMBOUS, Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Cyprus
(text of speech - audio recording)
Moderator: Michalis ATTALIDES, Rector of the University of Nicosia

      × Anne BRASSEUR (LUX), Chairperson of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
      (text of speech – audio recording)

      × Mary DALY, Professor, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast
      (text of speech - powerpoint presentation)
      × Elizabeth SPEHAR, Director Americas and Europe Division, focal point on issues relating to democracy, Department of Political Affairs, United Nations

11.45 – 1 p.m. ‘South- Eastern Mediterranean: building democracies that nurture
social cohesion’
(texts of panel speeches - audio recording)

      Moderator: Keith WHITMORE, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
      (text of speech – audio recording)
      × Kamel BESBES, Professor and former Dean, Monastir University, former Deputy Mayor of Monastir, Tunisia
      (text of speech - powerpoint presentation)
      × Andreas GROSS (CH), Chairperson of the Socialist Group of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

2.30 – 5.30 p.m. First set of parallel working sessions (1A and 2A, details on the following pages)

8.30 p.m. Forum dinner offered by the Cypriot hosts

Day 2: Friday 14 October

9.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. Second set of parallel working sessions (1B and 2B, details on the following pages)

12.30 – 2 p.m. lunch break

2.30 – 3.00 p.m.

Statement by Majeda Al-Masri, Minister of Social Affairs of the Palestinian National Authority
(Text of statement - audio recording)

2 – 3.30 p.m. Round table discussion of the working session findings and Conclusions by the General Rapporteur
(texts of round table interventions - audio recording)

      × Constantinos PHELLAS, Professor of Sociology and Dean of the School of Humanities, Social Science & Law, University of Nicosia and General Rapporteur of the Forum
      × Joseph JOSEPH, Discussant theme 1
      × Carlo RUZZA, Discussant theme 2

3.30 – 4 p.m. Closing session
Addresses by:

      × Vuk JEREMIĆ, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Serbia

(text of speech - audio recording)

      × Joăo MOTO AMARAL, Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly

(text of speech - audio recording)

      × Erato KOZAKOU-MARCOULLIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cyprus

(text of speech - audio recording)
4 p.m. End of the Forum

    Theme 1: Empowerment and participation: key elements for democracy and social cohesion

Parallel working session 1A
Thursday 13 October
2.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.
Coffee break mid-afternoon

Promoting and enabling broad democratic engagement

    by empowering all members of society

    People’s ability and motivation to engage in public affairs requires a range of skills, resources and opportunities. Modern democracies should facilitate the capacity of citizens and non-citizens to acquire the social, cultural and political capital required to enable them to navigate the institutional framework, concretise their rights and participate in democratic processes rooted in a process of reforms and power-sharing.
    Associations and NGOs representing minority and vulnerable groups play an important role in aggregating consensus and reducing social conflict. However, they must avoid exacerbating fragmentation.
    There is also growing concern with self-exclusion which concerns both vulnerable groups, who cannot imagine themselves as part of the decision-making processes, and the middle classes who choose to opt out of using certain public services.

    * * *

    How can policy makers and civil society organisations facilitate the acquisition of the necessary skills, resources and opportunities by all members of society, including the most vulnerable, thereby ensuring that their voice is heard and their needs are taken into greater account?
    How can access to social rights be made more robust in order to reduce systemic disempowerment and exclusion? Is self-exclusion from the use of public services a threat to democratic wellbeing and progress?
    Is there a need to adapt accepted structures, standards and practices to better address the notion of ”rights and responsibilities” on the part of all?
    What about the participation of minorities and migrants, including “new minorities”, especially those originating from “circular migration” (i.e. migrants coming to a country to work and returning home later)?

    Moderator: Alexander VLADYCHENKO, Council of Europe

    Author of the Issue paper for Working session 1A:

      Hugh FRAZER, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Social Studies National University of Ireland, Maynooth

    Discussant for theme 1:

    Joseph JOSEPH, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in Greece


      Tanya BASARAB, Development Officer, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)
      Thomas BOJE, Professor in Social Science, Roskilde University, Denmark
      Marcus BRIXSKIÖLD, Swedish Government National Special Advisor on Democracy Policy
      Kenneth DAVEY, Expert, European Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR)
      Nurnaz DENIZ, Founder of Urban Cosmopolitans, Amsterdam

      Issue paper - audio recording

Theme 1: Empowerment and participation: key elements for democracy and social cohesion

Parallel working session 1B
Friday 14 October
9.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
Coffee break mid-morning

Enhancing civic dialogue and social solidarity for the well-being of all

    Despite unprecedented overall levels of wealth, the economic and social disparities between rich and vulnerable populations in Europe are growing. These trends are weakening the human bonds of solidarity and shared responsibility, thereby threatening concepts of welfare and social, environmental and intergenerational justice. The current recession and financial crises are deteriorating the daily reality of many Europeans and making people fearful of the future.
    Civil society plays a crucial role in building social sustainability by facilitating social integration and cohesion as well as raising awareness of the long-term consequences of policy decisions.
    Innovative ways of thinking about inclusion and participation, for example active citizenship and shared social responsibility, highlight the interdependencies and co-responsibilities of all elements of society.

    * * *

    How should participatory processes be structured in order to facilitate consensus that seeks the common good above the advancement of special interests?
    How can processes and practices which foster reciprocity, solidarity and co-operation be further developed and implemented in order to consolidate social capital, intergenerational solidarity and connected communities?
    How can active citizenship be given greater substance and meaning?

    Moderator: Jean-Marie HEYDT, President of the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe

    Author of the Issue paper for Working session 1B:

      Guy STANDING, Professor of Economic Security at the University of Bath

    Discussant for theme 1:

    Joseph JOSEPH, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in Greece


      Antonina DASHKINA, President of Russian Union of Social Pedagogues
      and Social Workers and Director of Russian European Trust for Welfare Reform
      Niccolň MILANESE, Director, European Alternatives
      Samuel THIRION, Social Cohesion, Research and Early Warning Division, Council of Europe
      Hans-Jörg TRENZ Professor, Centre for Modern European Studies, University of Copenhagen and Adjunct Professor, Arena, Norway
      Jordi XUCLŔ I COSTA, member of the Spanish delegation to the Parliamentary
      Assembly of the Council of Europe

      Issue paper - audio recording

Theme 2: Democratic institutions, active citizenship and social cohesion

Parallel working session 2A
Thursday 13 October
2.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.
Coffee break mid-afternoon

    Creating and improving processes for participation by all members of society

    A modern democracy aims to enhance the mandate of the political actors by ensuring that the entire population is involved in decision shaping in ways that complement democratic electoral processes.
    Innovatory participatory and direct democracy structures, for example consultative assemblies and citizens’ juries, have been successfully introduced, particularly at the local level. If such forums are to be truly democratic, people’s participation needs to be closely interlinked with a sense of co-responsibility.
    At a time when access to social rights, i.e. education, health, social protection, employment and housing, are deteriorating because of the economic crisis, it is particularly challenging and important that all members of society, including the most vulnerable, are involved in participation processes.
    Furthermore, services are increasingly organised in such a way that users are required to make consumer-type choices, for example in selecting schools or hospitals. If public service offer is to retain its democratic ideal, all users, including vulnerable consumers, should know how to access and shape services.

    * * *

    How can participatory structures and processes be developed to offer new forms and spaces for participation, thereby fostering social cohesion and sustainable democracy?
    What are the linkages between participation across different levels of governance and how can participatory approaches to be scaled up beyond the community and local level?
    How can marginalised populations, who may not be citizens of the country they live in, be included in political processes?
    The internet and electronic democracy offer unprecedented opportunities for people to participate in decision-making processes. How can we make certain that these and other emerging tools are used to truly strengthen democracy, rather than to reinforce the voice of already prevailing groups?

    Moderator: Kyriacos PIERIDES, Journalist, Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation

    Author of the Issue paper for Working session 2A:

    Anna COOTE, Head of Social Policy, new economics foundation (NEF), London

    Discussant for theme 2:

      Carlo RUZZA, Professor of Political Sociology, University of Leicester


      Alejo CUERVO, Publisher, Spain
      Dina HAFFAR, Senior Advisor/Programme Team Leader,
      Intercultural Cities, Copenhagen
      Csilla KOLLONAY-LEHOCZKY, Professor at Eötvös Loránd University and Central European University, Budapest and member of the European Committee of Social Rights
      Ophélie LATIL, Génération précaire, France
      Salvör NORDAL, Director of the Ethics Institute, University of Iceland

Issue paper - audio recording

Theme 2: Democratic institutions, active citizenship and social cohesion

    Parallel working session 2B

Friday 14 October
9.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
Coffee break mid-morning

Creating and improving structures for sustainable and cohesive democratic societies

    A sustainable society fosters democratic practices and processes within the institutions and organisations which frame people’s daily lives. The regulation and management of institutions and services should assist the development of organisations which are responsive, adaptable and accountable.
    Democratic governance of institutions also requires that the people managing and working in them understand the importance of transparency and openness, the need for dialogue and partnerships, and the relevance of intercultural issues.
    The watchdog and monitoring role of civil society is also key in fostering the democratic functioning of institutions.

    * * *

    How can institutions enhance awareness of the importance of accountability, openness and intercultural competence, and build closer partnerships with civil society and with their user groups?
    What constitutes an ‘educated user’ in relation to democratic structures and processes (including public services) and how can a situation be reached in which all users are fully informed about their choices and are given options that are appropriate to their situation?
    How can participative processes help extend democratic practices into everyday life, for example the workplace?
    How can civil society find the resources it needs to modernise and become more participative?

    Moderator: Bouli HADJIIOANNOU, journalist (CY)

    Author of the Issue paper for Working session 2B:

      Peter TAYLOR-GOOBY, Professor of Social Policy, University of Kent

    Discussant for theme 2:

      Carlo RUZZA, Professor of Political Sociology, University of Leicester


      Helen DARBISHIRE, Executive Director, Access Info Europe, Madrid
      Jane JENSON , Professor of Political Science at the University of Montreal
      Jacek KUCHARCZYK, President of the Board, Institute of Public Affairs, Warsaw

      Issue paper - audio recording