Democracy and participation, Urban development

City Democracy Incubator


Who is behind this?

Anthony Zacharzewski

The Democratic Society AISBL


Idea Sketch | Proposal


Idea pitch

Across Europe, cities are experimenting with participatory democracy, in budgeting, in planning and in city services. Too often, those experiments are small-scale, disconnected and fail to transition from experiment to mainstream. The City Democracy Incubator will find and connect city experiments in democracy. It will increase their impact, help places learn from each other and create European models for urban democracy, to act as the foundation for a networked European democracy infrastructure

Where will your idea take place?

Already signed up: Antwerp, Falun (SE), Mannheim, Lisbon, Bolton, Ghent, Messina. More to come.

Why does Europe need your idea?

EU democracy needs to start where people live. People should take the stage locally, knowing their voices carry beyond their communities to Europe. This project helps build a foundational network of local participatory structures, locally designed but learning from each other and interconnected.

What is your impact?

At least 12 cities in the network, more joining, working with at least one other to advance replicable local democracy ideas. EU conversation on a significant issue conducted through those networks, with issue impact demonstrating potential for networked democracy. Forward financial plan.

How do you get there?

We will identify clusters around key challenges or innovations, and cities will join one or more clusters. Each cluster will have a work plan for the year. We have initial network, ideas and commitments from World Forum on Democracy in November. The funding will support networking and connecting the clusters, developing practical processes, and building a link into European level institutions. It uses and increases impact of existing projects.

What is your story?

We've been working on democracy at every level for over ten years, and we're convinced that the levels need to work together, and local is the place to start. We see with concern how little participatory experiments in local gov have translated into system change. Making that happen is our mission.

Who are you doing it for?

Enthusiasts: citizens who want to get involved in issues beyond their immediate locality but don't know how.
Reluctant Europeans: people who don't understand the EU, to bring it closer to them and show they can influence it.
Local innovators: city council staff who are trying to create new ideas

What do you need from the Advocate Europe community?

Practical ideas for the big problems and opportunities that clusters should address. Ideas for other cities to approach, or great examples of local democracy activity.



Kelly McBride

Francesca Attolino

Idea created on Jan. 19, 2018
Last edit on May 23, 2018