SALAR Democracy Forum

Democracy Forum brought together nine ‘experts’ in democracy and democratic engagement with eight of SALAR’s staff working in areas of democratic support.  The aim was to hear international perspectives on democracy, challenges and opportunities.

The experts came from the UK, Germany,Italy, Finland, Iceland and Sweden. The format for the three days, facilitated by Andy Williamsson and Martin Sande, was one of intensive conversation; less about presenting and more about sharing, talking and listening.

The aim was to hear international perspectives, talk about the challenges and opportunities facing Swedish local government and then, together, develop high-level themes. Going forward, these themes will hopefully inform SALAR’s strategic direction as they embark on developing this for the years ahead. This is an account of what emerged from that conversation.

Take advantage of all materials from Democracy Forum

In this e-book you will find presentations and videos of the discussions from Democracy Forum.

Download the e-book - EPUB 3.0 for PC, Mac, iOS, Android

See movie with each expert, YouTube

Read and download the experts' presentations (PDF-documents)

Experts who participated

  • Catherine Howe, Director at Capita, United Kingdom
  • Edward Andersson, European Specialist, Involve, United Kingdom
  • Elke Loeffler, Chief Executive, Governance International, United Kingdom
  • Giovanni Allegretti, CES (Center for Social Studies - University of Coimbra), Italy/Portugal
  • Michael Moore, Primeast, United Kingdom
  • Prof. Dr. Jochen Franzke, University of Potsdam, Germany
  • Rhion H Jones, Founder and Programme Director, Consultation Institute, United Kingdom
  • Robert Bjarnason, Citizens Foundation, Iceland
  • Siv Sandberg, Åbo Akademi University, Finland
  • Susan Ritchie, Owner and Director of MutualGain, UK

Issues and Challenges

Modern democracy is complex and complicated.Different places have different challenges,problems and solutions, democracy is at its heart culturally constructed around where we live and reflects our wider societal concerns, norms and expectations. But it is also remarkable that, across Europe at least, we share many of the same concerns and challenges.
Trust is falling, voter turnout is falling.


To change we must have courage. There are clear trends emerging in our democracies that can be harnessed to help us overcome distrust and dislocation. These are partly digital but digital is only an enabler, they are primarily social and cultural. We need to create spaces for the courageous individuals who believe in the necessity of change and to generate new ways of doing democracy.


To overcome inertia and incumbency we need a new narrative, a new vision of why democracy matters. And we need to write this narrative together. This is a journey of discovery, it’s far from simple and it will take courage and new forms of leadership. We are moving to an age of active, networked democracy, supported and made possible by digital tools but above all requiring us to change our democratic culture to be open, accessible.


  • Anders Nordh
  • Lena Langlet


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