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The Mayor of the City of Vienna, Michael Ludwig and The Innovation in Politics Institute present:

The European Capital of Democracy initiative

From 2021, each year, one city in Europe becomes the European Capital of Democracy, a stage and inspiration for the future of democracy. Citizens from all over Europe will be invited to join.

It all starts in Vienna. On 18 September 2020, mayors and other politicians, artists and engaged citizens will be joining us as co-founders of the European Capital of Democracy initiative.

The enemies of democracy never sleep. Neither do we.

Join us in creating the European Capital of Democracy!​

We are building a stronger Europe with resilient democracies based on our common values of social balance, prosperity, and human rights.​

With the European Capital of Democracy we are creating a highly visible space for cities to highlight their democratic practices so citizens can experience real democracy in action and regain their trust in this best form of government.

If you would like to keep informed on the development of the European Capital of Democracy, please join us.

The European Capital of Democracy Launch Event at Vienna City Hall, Festival Hall

18 September 2020

Doors open at 6.30 pm | Programme starts at 7 pm (By personal invitation only!)

Your hosts for the evening will be Proschat Madani and Dirk Stermann.

Under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Dubravka Šuica.

Our Supporters

Anne Brasseur
Former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

"Democracy starts at home."

© Anne Brasseur

Yordanka Fandakova
Mayor of the municipality of Sofia, Bulgaria

"In our Europe, democracy is not a concept, but the participation of people and policies that improve the quality of life. The key is to highlight best practices and efforts in the fields of policy, education, culture, social inclusion, and innovation."

© Yordanka Fandakova

Heinz Fischer
Former Federal President of the Republic of Austria

"I support the European Capital of Democracy initiative because it is time to protect our democracies in Europe by making them more resilient."

© Federal Ministry of Defence

Ulrich Fuchs
Former Chairman of the European Capital of Culture jury and advisor to European cities

"Cities can play a major role as incubators and innovators of democracy, being flexible, down to earth, and courageous."

© Linz09

Ulrike Guérot
Head of department for European Policy and the Study of Democracy, Founder of the European Democracy Lab

"Participation and new, tangible forms of democracy are important in eroding societies. This is the strength of the planned Democracy Prize for European Cities. The goal of democracy is the preservation of the common good. A mechanism is needed to create it."


Michael Häupl
Former Mayor of Vienna and Honorary President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)

"European cities are the cornerstones of democracy, both historically and at present. Their provision of basic public services to citizens is an important element of municipal self-government and thus an important element of democracy itself."

© Stadt Wien/PID, Ian Ehm

Michal Hvorecky
Slovak author

"Extreme polarisation is slowly killing democracies. Corrupt leaders subvert institutions. We should learn from each other. Be aware. Listen. Discuss. Draw lessons from history. Let‘s be the change we want to see in the world! "

© Nora a Jakub

Josef Janning
Former Head of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin

"Democracy originates in urban society. And it is here that its revival has to begin. Nowhere can good governance be more participative than in cities, nowhere can people create so much positive change within a short time."

© European Council on Foreign Relations

Patricia Kahane
Entrepreneur and founder of the European Capital of Democracy initiative

"Cherishing our European core values – human rights, democracy, social balance, and prosperity – should not be tied to party affiliation. We all live and die by politics."

© Patricia Kahane

Ivan Krastev
Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies

"We need to manage change in democracy if we do not want the enemies of democracy to do it for us."

© Ivan Krastev

Axelle Lemaire
Former French Government Minister in charge of Innovation and Digital Affairs

"Improving politics is essential for democracy in a changed environment. We need to provide encouragement and rewards – like the European Capital of Democracy initiative does – for those striving for a new kind of democracy for all."

© Géraldine Aresteanu

Sir Michael Leigh
Senior Adviser, German Marshall Fund of the United States

"Cities, being closer than central governments to citizens and their daily concerns, are often better placed to push back against detrimental tendencies and help safeguard democracy, the rule of law and human rights."

© Sir Michael Leigh

Markus Lewe
Mayor of the City of Münster and Vice President of the Association of German Cities

"I support the European Capital of Democracy initiative because democracy guarantees justice, freedom and peace in Europe. In times of terror and populism, the joint endorsement of these values is more important than ever. "

© City of Münster

Philippe Narval
Secretary General, European Forum Alpbach

"Democratic societies are under assault. To win this fight we need efficient dialogue, cooperation and communication, space and structure, across borders and party lines. The European Capital of Democracy initiative will provide all that, through – and for – all of us."

© Andrei Pungovschi

Lefteris Papaganniakis
Former Deputy Mayor of Athens

"Only a joint effort of all democrats in Europe will succeed against anti-democratic and anti-European movements."

© Lefteris Papaganniakis

Wolfgang Petritsch
President of the Marshallplan Foundation, Vienna

"As a citizen I have always been a staunch believer in democratic practice. As a diplomat I know from empirical evidence that war between democracies is extremely unlikely. "

© Michael Mazohl

Rosen Plevneliev
Former President of Bulgaria

"If we want our children to inherit a world of lasting peace and human dignity, the time has come for all of us to defend, strengthen and build up democracy and European values."

© cc by 2.5

David van Reybrouk
Belgian author and cultural historian

"We have democratized education, we have democratized information and communication. Now, let us democratize democracy itself. Let’s make citizens part of the decision-making process. Refusing to do so is refusing to bring democracy into the 21st century."

© Lenny Oosterwijk

Andreas Treichl
Chairman of the Supervisory Board of ERSTE Foundation

"Values like truth, democracy and independent thinking are heavily under attack. And all of them are important pillars of prosperity – let us protect them!"

© Jakob Polacsek

Matúš Vallo
Architect, city activist, and Mayor of Bratislava

"I am a big believer in engaging people in the development of the cities and places where they live. Authentic and transparent local politics may help to fix their trust in democracy."

© Matúš Bence

Erion Veliaj
Mayor of Tirana

"As a true advocate of cities becoming more inclusive and responsive to people’s needs, more open and transparent, I welcome and support the European Capital of Democracy initiative, a much-needed initiative for young democracies like Albania’s, but not just Albania's."

© Municipality of Tirana

Gerdi A. Verbeet
Former President of the Second Chamber of the States General of the Netherlands

"Europe can only stay strong if it provides the will, wisdom and expertise of all her citizens with a strong voice when it comes to decision-making. Therefore, I support this initiative."

© Rogier Veldmann

Thomas Weninger
Secretary General of the Austrian Association of Cities and Towns

"Cities are the cradle of democracy. Therefore, they are the best place to start improving it."


Lech Wałęsa
Former Chairman of the ‘Solidarity’ Movement, former President of Poland, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1983

"To defend a free and open world we need to firmly stand up to opposers that see our values and way of life as a threat. We need to make people feel once again that institutions represent them and are accountable to their voices."

© UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

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