Research and Policy Day: Power to the People – The Future of European Democracy

Kirjoittaja Kalevi Sorsa -säätiö Kalevi Sorsa -säätiö

Occupy kuvaThe theme of the 8th annual Research and Policy Day is European Democracy. The issue is approached through four topics: strengthening EU citizenship and legitimacy, illegitimate corporate power, democratisation and democracy support, and representative vs. direct democracy.

Speakers include President Tarja Halonen, famous political scientist and activist Susan George and a host of other interesting academics and politicians.

There will be simultaneous interpretation into Finnish and English. Participation is free of charge. We kindly ask those who would like to participate to register in advance by October 30th. In order to register, please refer to the bottom of this page.

The event is organised by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies with the support of the Kalevi Sorsa Foundation.


8.30-9.00           Registration and Coffee

9.00-9.15           Opening remarks

Dr. Mikko Majander, Director, Kalevi Sorsa Foundation

Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, Minister of Finance, Leader of Social Democratic Party

9.15-10.30        Stronger Citizens – Democratic EU?

Europe celebrates the Year of the Citizen and gets ready for the European parliament elections. At the same time over half of EU-citizens consider the EU more undemocratic than democratic, the Commission has gained greater competences and large economic policy reforms are made bypassing the European parliament, and European solidarity and democracy are put to the test in EU member states. How can EU citizenship and legitimacy be strengthened? Is the democratic deficit solved through new structures or new policies?

Prof. Bruno Liebhaberg, FEPS Vice President and  Chair of the Scientific Council, President of Gauche Réformiste Européenne

Comment: Kimmo Elo, Senior lecturer, University of Turku


VIDEO from session (Urpilainen (in Finnish), Liebhaberg, Elo)

10.45-12:15      Democracy in Danger: The Rise of Illegitimate Authority

Debates on neoliberalism have often focused on the state and the market. But some economists and social scientists claim that neoliberalism has led to the rise of giant corporations and their illegitimate power in public life. How influential are the transnational corporations in politics? What kind of challenge does corporate power pose to European democracy? What can be done to limit illegitimate corporate power?

Dr. Susan George, President of the Board, Transnational Institute
Dr. Teivo Teivainen, Professor of World Politics, Univerisity of Helsinki

VIDEO from session (George, Teivainen)

12.15-13.15      Lunch (at own expense)

13.15-13.45     The State of Democracy
President Tarja Halonen

VIDEO from session (Halonen, in Finnish).

13.45-15:00      What democracy? Principles and Practice of European Democracy Support

Democracy support has remained on the European agenda despite the economic crisis. The Arab Spring has strengthened belief that there is a demand for democracy. However, the European neighborhood faces its own challenges of democratic consolidation, which raises fundamental questions about the principles and practices of democracy support. What are the prospects of democratization in the European neighborhood? How does the EU support democratization in the area? What kind of democracy is sought? What modifications are required to better respond to the needs in the target countries?

Ms. Ingrid Wetterqvist, Senior adviser democracy support at EEAS, fmr Director at IDEA
Dr. Milja Kurki, Professor in International Relations Theory, Aberystwyth University

VIDEO from session (Wetterqvist, Kurki)

15:00-15.30      Coffee

15.45-16:45      Panel Discussion: Direct or Representative Democracy?

Voter turnout has been on a long decline in Finnish parliamentary elections. Only a bit over 40 percent went to the polls in the last European election. Does the legitimacy of representative democracy decline along with the voter turnout? Can direct democracy support or even replace it? And what is the role of political parties and referenda in a world of Citizens’ Initiatives and internet democracy?

Ms. Tuija Brax, Member of Parliament, Green League
Mr. Pertti Paasio, former chairman, Social Democratic Party
Mr. Eero Vainio, Vice Chairman, Social Democratic Party
Ms. Jenni Rinne, University of Helsinki
Moderator: Dr.  Mikko Majander, Kalevi Sorsa Foundation

VIDEO from session (Panel discussion, in Finnish).

16.45-17.00      Closing

Please find speakers’ profiles here.


Registration form

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