In a two-stage voting process, the city of Vienna was elected by European experts and citizens as the “European Capital of Democracy 2024/25” (ECoD). The title is a recognition of outstanding democratic efforts and sets the framework for the “Democracy Year,” featuring events, initiatives, and projects that strengthen democracy in Vienna. In late autumn 2024, Vienna will take over the title from the current ECoD, Barcelona. The official handover of the trophy will take place in Vienna at the end of January.
Helfried Carl, founder of the ECoD initiative and Amina Krvavac, representative of the Experts’ Jury, announced the news today, Tuesday, during a meeting of the city government. The official handover of the trophy will take place at the end of January in Vienna.
Seven other cities entered the race for the title, five of them were nominated for the shortlist after an evaluation by an experts’ jury. Alongside Vienna, Bratislava, Leipzig, Gdansk, and Izmir made it to this selection. A jury of nearly 4,000 citizens from 47 countries of the Council of Europe (and Kosovo) ultimately made the final decision in favor of Vienna through online voting.
“It is a wonderful honor for Vienna to be named the European Capital of Democracy 2024/25. I am proud that we were able to convince the jury of European citizens with our ideas for advancing democracy. Over the next two years, Vienna will showcase innovative projects demonstrating how social cohesion can be further strengthened through the participation of citizens,” emphasized Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig.
“As ECoD Experts’ Jury, we consider a variety of facets contributing to democratization and critically analyze the applications of each city. Vienna has been particularly impressive with its focus on a climate-just future. I also would like to emphasize that each shortlisted city has made exceptional efforts to promote democratic values and can take pride in these accomplishments!” emphasized Amina Krvavac, a representative of the Experts’ Jury.
The Experts’ Jury consists of internationally recognized experts and practitioners from the fields of science, civil society, art, and business. Members evaluate and assess the level of ambition, innovation, and creativity of democracy projects submitted by all applicant cities.
Vienna’s application was based on a comprehensive democratization strategy, aiming to “make the most livable city in the world also the most democratic.” This is to be achieved through the opening of administrative processes and their enrichment with democratic innovations based on the needs and ideas of citizens. This includes the participatory development of youth engagement projects such as the “Children and Youth Million” or the “Vienna Climate Team,” which co-creatively develops measures in the fight against the climate crisis.
“It is a great honor for Vienna to carry the title of the European Democracy Capital after Barcelona. I look forward to presenting a comprehensive program at the official title handover in January 2024, demonstrating innovative ways in which the population can participate in shaping their living environment. Democracy means getting involved in one’s own affairs. As the European Capital of Democracy, we want to raise awareness and set new impulses,” emphasized Jürgen Czernohorszky, Vienna’s City Councillor for Climate, Environment, Democracy, and Personnel.
“Being elected the European Capital of Democracy fills us with incredible joy. This success belongs to all the citizens of our city because each and everyone is an active shaper of democracy. The essence of democracy lies in the power of the people—a principle we remain faithful to in Austria’s capital even in challenging times. Our vision is to strengthen the values of democracy through innovative, young, and fresh ideas. In the area of children’s and youth participation, we are setting new standards with the first citywide Children’s and Youth Parliament in Vienna,” explained Deputy Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr.
City Councillor Judith Pühringer: “I am pleased that the city of Vienna has received this important award. Especially in times like these, when the enemies of democracy pose a threat to our peaceful coexistence, it is crucial to come together in support of a free, open, inclusive, and democratic society.”
“Vienna had to convince an international audience twice: first, the expert jury, and second, the citizen jury, consisting of 4,000 Europeans. It is important to emphasize that Austrians were not able to vote for Vienna to ensure fairness. Our democratic understanding, as the power of the engagement of the many, is taken into account in the selection process,” added Helfried Carl, Diplomat, and Founder of the European Capital of Democracy initiative.
Currently, Barcelona is the title-holding city, hosting the Democracy Year 2023/24 with numerous events and initiatives aimed at strengthening democracy and democratic awareness. Barcelona’s Mayor, Jaume Collboni, recognizes this as an important mission: “Cities are the places where democracy originated. They are also the places where we need to initiate a conversation on how to practice democracy in order to make it tangible, inclusive, and resilient. As the first-ever European Capital of Democracy, Barcelona aims to serve as an example for all European cities grappling with the challenge of defending democracy.”
Starting next autumn, Vienna will assume this role and become the center of democratic innovations. A press conference at the end of January will mark the official handover of the trophy for the European Capital of Democracy 2024/25, and details of the Democracy Year will be presented.
Further information on the “European Capital of Democracy” initiative can be found at: capitalofdemocracy.eu
© PID/Markus Wache
On the picture from left to right: Deputy Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr, Founder of ECoD Helfried Carl, Mayor Michael Ludwig, Experts’ Jury Representative Amina Krvavac, City Councillor Jürgen Czernohorszky.
About European Capital of Democracy
The European Capital of Democracy aims to inspire cities across Europe to cultivate democratic environments, promote citizen engagement, and work towards a more inclusive and transparent future. The Programme Year provides a unique opportunity for individuals, communities, and institutions to collaboratively shape the democratic landscape. The initiative was launched by ECoD gemeinnützige GmbH together with The Innovation in Politics Institute, with offices in Vienna and Berlin and partners in 16 European countries.
European Capital of Democracy (ECoD NPO)
Creative Lead & Media
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Media Spokesperson for City Councillor Jürgen Czernohorszky
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