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Vienna is European Capital of Democracy 2024/25

Vienna takes over the title from Barcelona in autumn and becomes the venue for a multifaceted year of democracy

Press Release, 20.02.2024 I German Version I Image

Last autumn, Vienna was chosen by European citizens and experts as the “European Capital of Democracy 2024/25”. The Austrian capital will hold the title for one year from October 2024 and will design a diverse programme to strengthen democracy.

On Tuesday, 20 February, Mayor Michael Ludwig was presented with the official winner’s trophy by the founder of the “European Capital of Democracy” initiative, Helfried Carl, at City Hall. Maria Eugénia Gay, Deputy Mayor of the reigning Capital of Democracy Barcelona, who came to Vienna to exchange experiences, was a guest. City Councillor for Democracy Jürgen Czernohorszky presented the priorities for the Year of Democracy and invited interested organisations, institutions and associations to help shape it.

Mayor Ludwig: Strengthening social cohesion through greater participation

“We are currently experiencing worldwide that democratic achievements cannot be taken for granted. Populist forces want to divide society and are trying to undermine democracy. That is why it is so important to defend democratic values with all our strength and to support initiatives to strengthen democracy beyond our borders. As European Capital of Democracy, the City of Vienna will make a contribution to precisely this. With innovative projects, we will demonstrate how social cohesion can be strengthened through even greater participation by the Viennese,” emphasised Mayor Michael Ludwig.

“More democracy is a central political concern of the Vienna City Government. Against the backdrop of increasing authoritarian tendencies in the world, as the European Capital of Democracy we want to raise awareness of the importance of democracy for social peace and provide new impetus so that more people can actively shape their living environment. Together with civil society and our international partners, we want to strengthen democracy and act as an accelerator for democratic developments. That is why we are inviting organisations, associations and all those who are committed to more democracy to join the City of Vienna in creating a Year of Democracy,” said City Councillor for Democracy Jürgen Czernohorszky.

Vienna is the second European Capital of Democracy after Barcelona

Vienna will take over the “baton” of European Capital of Democracy from Barcelona in autumn. The title is awarded by the non-profit organisation European Capital of Democracy. In a two-stage voting process at the end of last year, Vienna prevailed against seven other cities, five of which were nominated for the shortlist after evaluation by a jury of experts. In addition to Vienna, Bratislava, Leipzig, Gdansk and Izmir made it onto the shortlist. A jury of over 4,000 citizens from 47 Council of Europe countries (and Kosovo) finally made the decision in favour of Vienna via online voting.

“After Barcelona, Vienna will be the next European Capital of Democracy, which first convinced our expert jury and then the citizens’ jury. Our Europe-wide initiative strengthens democracy in cooperation with civil society and citizens. It offers space for democratic innovation and exchange and presents pioneering contributions to improving politics. All this in order to experience new forms of participatory and inclusive democracy in practice and to be inspired across national and party boundaries,” says Helfried Carl.

“The city of Barcelona has applied for the title of European Capital of Democracy because it has always been committed to the global dimension of urban democracy, especially within the framework of international city networks. At the same time, Barcelona has become an international reference for democratic innovation with its digital citizen participation initiatives,” said Deputy Mayor Maria Eugénia Gay. “Cities are the level of government that is closest to citizens when it comes to participating in public affairs. It can be said without a doubt that cities are the pioneers of democracy. This is precisely why cities must work with an inclusive approach based on diversity, respect and protection. Cities must be the guarantors of human rights in order to enable sustainable and social development.”

What Vienna can expect in the year of the European Capital of Democracy

As the European Capital of Democracy, Vienna will host a diverse programme of events, projects and initiatives for one year, starting in October 2024. The aim is to make democracy tangible in its various facets for all levels of society and to bring together people from all over Europe who share an interest in dialogue about the democratic future of Europe. Some of the focal points have already been finalised:

Further expansion of participation opportunities for Viennese citizens
One focus of the Year of Democracy is the further expansion of participation and co-determination opportunities for the Viennese. With a “hub” for participation and a democracy workshop, the city will launch new initiatives to enable even more people to participate in their immediate living environment. The aim is to break down barriers and develop participation formats that reflect the diversity of a major city like Vienna.

International presentation of Viennese pioneering projects
In addition, existing Viennese democracy projects that have convinced the jury of experts and citizens are to be positioned internationally as showcase examples: the Vienna Climate Team, the Cultural Laboratory in Municipal Buildings, the Participatory Children and Youth Million and the Vienna Social Fund’s Customer Council. The international focus on Vienna as a democracy capital should also help to make the Viennese more aware of the diversity of participation opportunities.

Innovative event formats
Another focus is on innovative event formats that experiment with playful and artistic approaches to democracy. “Truth, Lies and Democracy” is aimed at Europe’s gaming community and is intended to help combat the spread of “fake news” online. Teams are developing video games and interactive proposals to fight against misinformation. An artistic focus is also planned under the slogan “Art of Democracy“.

International exchange
In 2025, Vienna will also be the venue for several international events. The “ACT NOW Mayors’ Conference” will bring together mayors, practitioners, scientists and young people from Europe to discuss local solutions to the global crises of our time. The “Innovation in Politics Awards” will once again recognise innovative political projects from across Europe, with the final conference and awards ceremony planned for next year in Vienna.

Become part of the European Capital of Democracy 2024/25

The City of Vienna and the European Capital of Democracy initiative are inviting institutions, organisations, companies, associations and anyone who is committed to more democracy to become part of the European Capital of Democracy 2024/25 and help shape a varied programme. Interested parties can register at demokratiehauptstadt@post.wien.gv.at.

Enquiry note:
Philipp Lindner
Media spokesman StR Jürgen Czernohorszky
+43 1 4000 81853

Amadea Horvath
ECoD non-profit organisation (ECoD NPO)
Creative Lead & Media
+43 650 5608830

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