Does Europe's Democracy Need More Citizen Participation?

The 8th round of European HouseParliaments focused on this year's 175th anniversary of the convening of the first German National Assembly in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main. On the occasion of this important event in the history of democracy, the focus of this round of EHP was on the topic of European citizen participation. Therefore, the over question of this round of EHP was: Does Europe's democracy need more citizen participation?

From April 4, 2023 to July 30, 2023, around 500 people from 9 European countries discussed the topic of European citizen participation and voted on the over-question as well as three concrete European policy proposals. The debate focused on the introduction of a European referendum, the establishment of transnational lists in the European elections, and more opportunities for co-determination in European migration policy.

Number of participants:

500 people from 9 EU countries


April 4, 2023 until July 30, 2023

The dialogue partners



Should a European referendum be introduced in which all EU citizens can participate and thus have a say in questions concerning the future of Europe?

On a scale of 1 (no way) to 10 (full agreement), the mean value of the voting results is 5.4. The tendency (median) of the vote is 5. In the participants' "against" arguments, the concern about populist appropriation of such a vote was expressed particularly frequently, as well as the objection that such a procedure is very presuppositional for many citizens with regard to obtaining information and forming opinions. At the same time, some participants saw a European referendum as an opportunity to counteract alienation towards the EU and European politicians and to make European politics tangible.

Should EU citizens also be able to vote for candidates from other EU member states in European elections via transnational lists?

The mean value of the votes in the European House Parliaments is 5.7. The tendency of the vote (median) is 6. Most participants voted with 8. What the participants see as positive about the proposal is primarily that an election via transnational lists could actually Europeanize the European elections and create a cross-border European sense of community. The participants are critical of the practicability of the proposal. Transnational lists would further complicate the already complicated European elections for voters. Some participants also see the danger that the regional competence of the members of parliament would not be given.

Should EU citizens decide at the local level how many refugees they want to receive in their region and thus facilitate a Europe-wide distribution?

The mean value in the vote on this European policy proposal is 4.1. The tendency (median) in the vote is a scale value of 4. The majority of participants voted 0 on the question of more local co-determination in the distribution of refugees. Participants are critical of the proposal primarily because voting on fundamental rights, such as the right to asylum, should not be up for a vote. Furthermore, some participants fear an even greater inequality in the distribution of refugees within the EU if such a regulation is introduced. On the positive side, some participants see the financial incentive for municipalities to take in more refugees. In this way, an additional willingness of municipalities to take in more refugees would be appropriately rewarded. Refugees and regions where many workers are needed could benefit equally from such a regulation.

Does Europe's Democracy Need More Citizen Participation?

Although there is no clear picture of public opinion, or even a negative vote in some cases, with regard to specific European policy proposals, the results of the vote on the question "Does Europe's democracy need more civic participation? In 84.3 percent of the European House Parliaments held, the majority voted for more European civic participation. In 4.3 percent of the European House Parliaments held, a majority voted against more European civic participation. In 11.4 percent of the European House Parliaments held, a majority abstained on the question of more civic participation in Europe. Thus, the voting results send a clear signal to our political dialogue partners: Many EU citizens want more citizen participation at the European level. Exactly how concrete opportunities for participation should be structured is an exciting topic that will be discussed in the following European House meetings.
to be discussed in the following European House Parliaments.


Impressions of the eighth round of the European HouseParlements


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For more information on the 7th round of the European HouseParliaments, please see the results report, which can be downloaded here:

Download final reportDownload moderation sheet