May 15th Book Presentation in Brussels

Upcoming Event: Can Innovation and Direct Engagement Bring European Democracy Back to the People? 

A joint event of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and
the Mission of Switzerland to the EU, with a book presentation by N. Nuspliger


Niklaus Nuspliger, author of „Europa zwischen Populisten-Diktatur und Bürokraten-Herrschaft“ (“Europe between Populist Dictatorship and Bureaucratic Rule”) identifies two main reasons for the European democracy crisis. On the one hand, citizens in the “institutional jungle” of the EU have lost the overview and possibility to influence. On the other hand, representative democracy has generally fallen into crisis, therefore fueling a sense of disempowerment among citizens. This results in the loss of confidence in the institutions, growing political apathy, the declining performance of traditional people’s parties, but also political polarization and fragmentation. Nuspliger offers ways out of this dilemma between authoritarianism and technocracy, through stronger and more innovative direct involvement of citizens.

This event will discuss the state of the union, forms of democratic innovation, as well as direct participation by citizens as a way to bring European democracy back to the people.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Registration: 12:00h

Event & Light Lunch: 12:15 – 14:00h

Venue: Swiss Mission to the EU, Place de Luxembourg 1, 1050 Brussels

Kindly register for this event by 13 May 2019 at *


Urs Bucher
Head of the Swiss Mission to the EU

Thomas Ilka

Director European Dialogue,
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom


Niklaus Nuspliger
Author, Brussels Correspondent of NZZ

Alexander Miesen

President, Parliament of the German-speaking Community

Simona Pronckute (tbc)

Board member, ECI Campaign


Valentina Pop

Brussels correspondent, Wall Street Journal

The event will be accompanied by simultaneous interpretation in German and English.

Book Review by Florian Eder, Brussels Playbook, Politico Europe

Link to the article:

By FLORIAN EDER 22.4.2019

A DIFFERENT VIEW: Niklaus Nuspliger, the EU correspondent for Swizerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, takes a look at the state of Europe through a wider lens. And what he sees isn’t pretty. His new book, “Europa zwischen Populisten-Diktatur und Bürokratenherrschaft” (“Europe, in between populist dictatorship and bureaucratic rule”), which hits bookstores in German tomorrow, describes the crisis of liberal democracies. It draws on his travels around the Continent — he reports from Budapest, Amsterdam, a tennis court in southern France, a “dusty bench on rondpoint Schuman” — and combines a Swiss sense of distance from the EU’s internal workings with his own sharp analysis on the success of illiberal politics. Refreshingly, the book doesn’t stop there.

How to engage with voters: The book’s most inspiring sections mull the question of how democracies can defend themselves from being taken over by a reckless majority and discuss the pros and cons of various forms of citizens’ participation, including direct democracy and Rousseau, the Italian 5Star Movement’s online democracy tool. He also goes on a fascinating tangent on how the Swiss manage to turn even the most radical referenda results into pragmatic policies.

#SwissBreakfast on „Direct democracy – an antidote to populism?“

Wednesday, 03.04.2019 – Wednesday, 03.04.2019

Swiss policy on the European Union; Bilateral agreements Switzerland-EU; Other files Switzerland-EU

#SwissBreakfast ©FDFA

H.E. Urs Bucher, Ambassador of Switzerland to the EU, cordially invites you to share a typical #SwissBreakfast and join the discussion on „Direct democracy – an antidote to populism?“ on Wednesday 3rd April 2019 from 9.00 am to 10.30 am at the Mission of Switzerland to the EU, Place du Luxembourg 1, 1050 Brussels. 


Welcome speech by Dieter Cavalleri, Minister at the Mission of Switzerland to the EU.

Followed by a discussion between

Claude Longchamp 
Political scientist, historian and chairman of the board of gfs.bern (Gesellschaft für Sozialforschung, Switzerland)

Jo Leinen  
Member of the European Parliament (S&D, Germany)Moderated by
Niklaus Nuspliger
Correspondent NZZ in Brussels

Modern representative democracy is at stake. The challenges come from all sides: on the one hand from the globalised economy, which transcends in many ways the reach of national democracies, and on the other hand from populist movements trying to undermine the rule of law and the separation of powers.

Over the past years a rise in popular votes in countries all over Europe has been observed. The development towards a more participative democracy has perhaps been the most comprehensive in Switzerland. Thanks to its use of the initiative and referendum process, Switzerland has become a reference in discussions about modern democracy.

While the European elections are approaching, voices are being raised demanding more direct participation in the decision making process. Can instruments like the European Citizens‘ Initiative (ECI) unleash democratic potential at the EU level? Can direct democracy help to restrain populist movements and become an antidote to populism? How can governments and institutions meet the demand for a more participative democracy and facilitate a bottom-up approach?