Lithuania 2050: future democracy and future governance
This paper looks at future trends and possible models of democracy. Recent decades have witnessed a global decline in democracy, increasing polarisation of societies, growing citizen dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracy, and declining trust in democratic institutions in Central and Eastern European countries. The Vision for the Future of the State of Lithuania, entitled ‘Lithuania 2050’, which has been submitted to the Seimas for consideration, identifies citizen-led democracy as one of the key areas for national progress, with the key objective of building mutual trust, strategic thinking, flexibility, efficiency, inclusiveness, and a mature civic culture. This paper reviews the most recent research literature on future models of democracy, including deliberative democracy, anticipatory governance, seamless government and other measures designed to address the effectiveness deficit and legitimacy deficit in governance. Rather than a strategic plan, Lithuania 2050 is a general framework document that sets out the vision of the future we want to achieve. Therefore, it should be noted that specific measures to achieve the vision should be elaborated, detailed and specified through the adoption of individual national development programmes, as provided for in the vision. We recommend that consideration be given to introducing elements of deliberative democracy, anticipatory governance, adaptive governance, flexible governance and other principles outlined in the first part of the paper in the preparation of the relevant national development programmes. An emphasis should also be placed on the importance of experimentation and collective intelligence in the search for optimal solutions to public policy issues. Alongside these matters, the national development programmes should set out to provide specific means and ways of developing the said optimal solutions. The current draft of the vision therefore leaves much room for further delineation of the ways, forms and mechanisms of implementing deliberative democracy. Citizen assemblies are the most common way of involving societies in decision-making and in the design of possible alternative solutions. In order to increase citizen participation in public governance, it is recommended to consider institutionalising citizen assemblies in Lithuania. This is likely to be a serious challenge. The European Social Survey shows that the attitudes and values of the Lithuanian population are not conducive to the growth and sustainability of citizen participation in public policy. Citizens poorly rate their confidence to act in the political process. Trust in the country’s key political institutions is very low. Support for democracy is weak. Social engagement through the available social networks is low. The excessive focus on security as a value indicates a potential aversion to change and innovation, while the extremely low propensity for benevolence and civic action, together with the strong focus on wealth and success, hinders social solidarity and indicates low levels of social capital. The recommendation is therefore to carry out institutionalisation of deliberative democracy step by step, taking into account the experience of the Citizens’ Council pilot project. It would be helpful to include indicators that measure the quality of democracy among the monitoring indicators. It is also advisable to focus more on implementing the horizontal principle of government organisation, which would benefit from a matrix governance structure that cuts across bureaucratic and sectoral boundaries. This approach would address the so-called ‘silo towers’ of ministries and departments and bring together different sectors of society to work together to achieve common goals, making the best use of their knowledge and skills. Smooth government, which is also invisible, is the most convenient power for citizens, because it is focused on and responsive to their needs and expectations. The design of development programmes should also take into account the guidelines for the future government defined by the Centre for Public Impact established by the Boston Consulting Group Foundation in Switzerland in 2015. The paper notes the weaknesses and shortcomings of the new public management, as the model is based on a flawed industrial mind-set designed to manage and control and fails to take stock of the true nature of the challenges modern societies are facing and fails to exploit the collective potential to address them. The proposed solutions are frozen in time and unsuitable for a fast-changing context. They result in citizens feeling increasingly disillusioned with power and seeing it as distant and impersonal. Therefore, the Centre for Public Impact has proposed a vision of better governance based on innovative beliefs, values and principles. The said vision is based on three beliefs: 1. Complexity. Most of the challenges we face as a society are complex in nature. They involve many actors, interacting in a variety of ways. Outcomes are the emergent properties of these systems. 2. Relationships. The quality of human relationships matters a great deal. We assume positive intent and trust people, sharing power and supporting each other to make the best decisions. 3. Experimentation. Progress is best achieved through experimentation and a process of continuous learning. Because change is constant, and failures are inevitable in the face of complexity, we should seek to maximise public systems’ capacity to learn and adapt. Effective and legitimate governance should be based on seven fundamental values that are equally applicable to individuals, teams, organisations, and governance as a whole: 1. Humility because no individual (or individual organisation) can achieve sustained positive change in a complex system by themselves. 2. Openness because working in the open is the best way to allow the free flow of ideas and inspiration. 3. Empathy because in seeking to understand others we broaden our perspective and create the conditions for stronger relationships. 4. Authenticity because strong human relationships are built on honest, authentic connections. 5. Trust because this gives people the agency and motivation to act and helps create the conditions for sustainable change. 6. Curiosity because this focuses our attention on what we don’t know and challenges us to increase our understanding. 7. Diversity because diversity of thought and diversity of practice accelerates learning and demographic diversity strengthens legitimacy. The above values and beliefs naturally lead to the following key principles to be followed by governments and citizens at all levels, starting from the highest political level to the interactions of individual citizens: 1. Think systemically, act locally. Our actions should be informed by an awareness of the system but focused on encouraging local ownership. 2. Share power with those best placed to act. Devolve decision-making rights to those with the information and agency to make a difference. 3. Challenge unnecessary hierarchy and cooperate across boundaries. Where possible encourage multi-disciplinary teams working in flat structures. 4. Seek out strengths and build on them. This helps create a more positive foundation for change. 5. Champion the voices of those who are heard the least. This helps to promote diversity of thought and create a more inclusive conversation. 6. Optimise for learning rather than control. The capacity of the system to learn is more important than for someone to be in charge.
Short title:
No shorttitle
Start date:
End date:
Project leader:
Committee for the Future of the Seimas (CFF-Lith)