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German lawmakers considered Wednesday whether to create the country’s first “citizen assembly’” to advise parliament on the issue of food and nutrition.
Germany’s three governing parties back the idea of appointing consultative bodies made up of members of the public selected through a lottery system who would discuss specific topics and provide nonbinding feedback to legislators. But opposition parties have rejected the idea, warning that such citizen assemblies risk undermining the primacy of parliament in Germany’s political system.
Baerbel Bas, the speaker of the lower house, or Bundestag, said that she views such bodies as a “bridge between citizens and politicians that can provide a fresh perspective and create new confidence in established institutions.”
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Lawmaker attend a meeting of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, in the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, on May 10, 2023. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
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“Everyone should be able to have a say,” Bas told daily Passauer Neue Presse. “We want to better reflect the diversity in our society.”
Environmental activists from the group Last Generation have campaigned for the creation of a citizen assembly to address issues surrounding climate change. However, the group argues that proposals drawn up by such a body should at the very least result in bills that lawmakers would then vote on.
Similar efforts to create citizen assemblies have taken place in other European countries such as Spain, Finland, Austria, Britain and Ireland.