German parties champion innovative practices in election programmes, like lowering the voting age.
Democracies around the globe are facing threats ranging from cyber-meddling in elections to clamp-downs on free speech. A new set of interactive tools designed by the Hertie School of Governance can help policymakers compare options for ensuring democratic processes are healthy and vibrant.
Vulnerabilities have figured big in elections this year across Europe, raising questions about what new practices could provide remedies. In the upcoming German election for example, major parties like the Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the Left Party explicitly state in their election programmes that they aim to lower the voting age to 16, as a way to promote engagement in the political process. The Free Democrats have also supported this idea.
The Governance Report 2017 interactive tools enable users to visualise key comparative aspects of democratic practices around the world. Some examples:
- Austria is the only country in Europe where 16-year-olds can vote in national elections without any limitations or further conditions. This could be a way to engage young people in the democratic process early on.
- Like many of its peers, Germany offers a wide variety of means for engaging civil society in political decision-making, while Hungary allows less space and fewer opportunities for society’s engagement than most of its peers.
- Australia is the go-to example for compulsory voting, but the Americas have the largest share of countries in which voting is compulsory. Compulsory voting can be a way to increase electoral participation, especially among underrepresented socioeconomic groups.
The 2017 edition of The Governance Report published by Oxford University Press focuses on democratic innovations and is accompanied by three interactive tools: a democratic innovations map, an evolution of democratic innovations tool and a countries at a glance tool.
Democratic Innovations Map
Example observation: Austria is the only country in Europe where 16-year-olds can vote in national elections without any limitations or further conditions.
Should Germany be next to lower its voting age? Several parties have championed the idea in their programmes for the current election. The Democratic Innovations Map allows users to see on a map how innovations are spread around the world. The map highlights regional clusters, indicates widespread application of an innovation and highlights unique cases. Access the Democratic Innovations Map here.
Countries at a Glance
Example observation: Like its peers, Germany offers a wide variety of consultative-discursive instruments, such as regularly engaging civil society in political decision-making processes.
Which democratic innovations are in place in Germany? How do other countries fare? And how do they compare to other countries in the same income group or on the same continent? The tool puts the focus on an individual country. It indicates whether (or to what extent) individual countries have adopted tools, rules, and practices that relate to four categories of democratic innovation: consultative-discursive, cooperative governance, direct democracy and electoral. Access the Countries at a Glance tool here.
Evolution of Democratic Innovations
Example observation: Although Australia is the go-to example for compulsory voting, the Americas is the continent with the largest share of countries, today and in the past 65 years, where voting is compulsory.
Do some democratic innovations become more widespread over time? Are some used less? Does a country’s wealth or its regime type make a difference in adopting an innovation? The 2017 Governance Report’s evolution of democratic innovations tool allows the user to track the existence of a democratic innovation over time from 1950 to 2015. Access the Evolution of Democratic Innovations tool here.
Order a copy of The Governance Report 2017 here.