Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) wants to strengthen the acceptance of parliamentary democracy with citizens' councils.

It is "not about an alternative to parliamentary democracy, but about strengthening it," he told the

Süddeutsche Zeitung


Citizens' councils could help as "a kind of compromise between a pure parliamentary democracy and one with plebiscites".

"We have to make our parliamentary democracy fit for the future," said Schäuble.

Citizens selected by lot would sit in citizens' councils.

You should deal intensively with a topic with the help of experts and at the end create an expert opinion with the results.

In this way, emotional and contentious debates are to be objectified.

"The bond between voters and elected has become weaker - and the strength of the parties that are important for a stable representative democracy has also diminished," said the President of the Bundestag.

The Greens are "a certain innovation, but the SPD CDU, CSU have had problems for some time".

Such a development can also be observed abroad: "Everywhere in Europe and in North America where our western democracy exists, we are experiencing a decreasing cohesiveness of this model."

That is why we now have to "try out new things to strengthen our model".

Democracy must "always be ready to reform" and defend itself "against the Chinese model and against undesirable developments caused by the new social media such as in the USA".

Schäuble against referendums at the federal level

Schäuble also said that he was "not a fan of referendums at the federal level".

In normal plebiscites, many citizens would naturally vote "who have not dealt intensively with the subject beforehand".

In a citizens' council, on the other hand, participants would have to grapple with a problem over a longer period of time and discuss it controversially.

"Such a vote has more substance".

In addition, said Schäuble, he hoped for a positive side effect, in that after such participation, citizens would then be interested in participating in local parliaments or parties.

Citizens' councils already exist in several European countries.

In France, for example, President Emmanuel Macron had set up several such bodies on various subjects in response to the yellow vests protests over the past two years to respond to calls for more direct democracy.

In Germany last year there was the "Citizens' Council Democracy", which was put together at random and made recommendations for the further development of the democratic system.

Next year, under Schäuble's patronage, another citizens' council is to be set up on the subject of "Germany's role in the world".

The results of the citizens' council are to be presented to the Bundestag in March 2021.