Involving citizens in the political process
Getting citizens to participate in their national political process is challenging enough let alone considering the European dimension. Yet, many important decisions that affect all Member States, such as developing strategies to combat climate change, are made at the European level. It is essential that citizens become engaged if the outcomes are to be seen as credible. The project EUROPOLIS (A deliberative polity-making project) received funding to study whether better-informed citizens would be more likely to get involved. In this context, a special multilingual event was organised in Brussels. Around 400 citizens hailing from all 27 Member States attended. Partners employed the concept of Deliberative Polling to elicit the effect of informing the participants on key issues. The highly charged topics of climate change and immigration were selected. Questionnaires were administered before and after the event, and again after subsequent European Parliamentary elections. The same questionnaires were also filled out by people who had not attended the event. Analysis and comparison of the results with this control group is expected to shed light on the ability of better information to promote voter participation and to overcome obstacles such as distrust. It is hoped that promoting open dialogue between citizens of different Member States will help build stronger cross-border bonds and a sense of feeling European rather than just a specific nationality.
Citizens, political process, climate change, polity, immigration