The Citizens’ Council offers the opportunity for a smaller group of people (about 10 to 16 people) to deal intensively with a topic that is important for the community to which these people belong, e.g. a municipality. This group works on behalf of all citizens of the community.
The selection is made by drawing lots. What sounds unusual has been used in democratic processes since ancient times and is once again attracting increasing attention today.
The people selected in this way contribute their personal opinion and do not fulfill a representative function of certain interests.
After the citizens’ council, the results are brought back to the whole group, e.g. in the form of a Citizens’ Café, and further processed there. Because the small group immerses itself very intensively and deeply in the topic, new and unexpected solutions can emerge in a relatively short time, because at the same time there is a deep awareness of the topic. In this way, the small group helps the citizenry as a whole to become aware of the issue more quickly.
The Citizens’ Council is not a parallel body and does not make decisions. Rather, it is to be seen as an instrument of political consultation.
Exemplary fields of application:
- Topics or questions that are very open and it is unclear how to proceed
- In the case of challenges that are difficult to solve, where the common good perspective should definitely be taken into account; holistic view of topics and issues
- Conflictual topics or supposedly immovable points of view
- When it comes to capturing an initial mood and getting to know points of view on a particular topic
- Activation of citizens
- At the beginning of a longer-term process
When is a Citizens’ Council not appropriate?
- To make decisions
- When it comes to involving the largest possible number of people
- For information purposes only
- if there is no room for maneuver or the results are already fixed in advance
- if there is no agreement on the part of the political decision-makers as to whether a Citizens’ Council should take place