Discussion Paper

Democratising Democracy: No Transformation without Democratisation

2021 | Paulina Föhlich, Paul Jürgensen & Maxine Fowé

More and more people perceive the future no longer as a promise but as a threat. Some are overwhelmed by the complexity and speed of economic transformation and social changes. Others are scared because, in their view, these developments are not happening fast enough. The critical task of democracies is to allow for control over the future without closing it and to open up the future without making it uncontrollable.


Conference paper „Democratising Democracy: No transformation without democratisation“

“My children will be better off than myself one day.” The strong belief in progress expressed in this statement has been holding liberal democracies together for the past decades. Today, more and more people perceive the future no longer as a promise but as a threat. They feel a sense of powerlessness in the face of climate change, cultural backlashes, and economic transformation. The Innocracy 2021 conference paper outlines where liberal democracies have lost the balance between openness and order and how this balance can be reinstalled.


Read the conference paper

About Innocracy

Innocracy is a European civil-society conference based in Berlin. Since 2017, once a year, Innocracy explores innovations in democracies. From reflections on the status quo, via practical examples of change to painting tangible future visions, the conference seeks to improve liberal democracy from the inside out. Innocracy is known for its community character, innovative formats and future-oriented debates.

In 2020, a digital version of Innocracy focused on future visions of more just democracies and their strategic value for societies in transformation. Under the title “Bringing the Future Back to Democracy”, more than 30 partner organisations, 60 speakers and 1000 participants experienced three days of keynotes, toolbox classes, vision sprints and panel discussions.

We believe, for the 2020s to become a decade of transformation, they have to become a decade of democratisation, too. At Innocracy 2021, we wanted to identify fields which are excluded or are being removed from democratic control and explore whether and how (re-)democratising them could lead to a better future.


Innocracy Website

About the authors

Paulina Fröhlich is Head of the programme “Future of Democracy” at Das Progressive Zentrum. She directs innovative dialogue projects, such as „Europa Hört“, designs and curates Innocracy, a conference on democratic transformation, and co-authors discussion papers, such as „Glotzt nicht so romantisch“ and the study „Die Talkshow-Gesellschaft“. She also heads the development of the digital platform „European Hub for Civic Engagement“. Previously, she worked in water management and development cooperation. In 2016 she co-founded the initiative „Kleiner Fünf“ and is now its media spokesperson.

Paul Jürgensen is Project Manager in the programme “Future of Democracy” at Das Progressive Zentrum. He oversees projects on representation and participation, democratic innovations and visions, and dealing with right-wing populism and extremism. Prior to this position, he completed the trainee programme at Das Progressive Zentrum. He is co-author of the book „Schleichend an die Macht“ (Dietz Verlag, 2020) and the study „Brücken bauen für die Demokratie“ (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2020).

Maxine Fowé is a Project Assistant in the programme ‘Future of Democracy’ at Das Progressive Zentrum. Previously, she studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics in Maastricht and London, and international economics in Berlin. Her research is located in the area of political economy and focuses on the potential of economic democracy and modern money in times of finance- dominated capitalism.