International Day of Democracy
Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament. UK Parliament / Photography by Roger Harris

2016 – Democracy 2030

In 2016 the International Day of Democracy questions the future of democracy, youth engagement and parliament’s role in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

the future of democracy

“Democracy 2030” is an invitation to all parliaments to interrogate the present, to learn from the past and to prepare the future of democracy. Key questions include:

  • How will the institutions of democracy – parliament, political parties, elections – change between now and 2030?
  • Will the existing political processes be sufficient to enable young people to express their aspirations, or do new processes need to be invented?
  • What new forms of collaborative, participative decision-making will emerge in the digital era?
  • How will parliaments connect the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the concerns and hopes of their citizens?

2030 – near or far?

In some ways, 2030 is very near – only around three electoral cycles’ away in most countries. Arguably, politics in 2030 might still look very similar to today, with familiar processes of elections, political parties and parliaments.

In other ways, it is a distant horizon. Many unforeseen events have taken place since 2000. No-one can predict with any certainty what political events will happen in coming years, what technological innovations will take place, nor how these new tools will be used by citizens.

Changes in society

Since the year 2000, information has become more widely accessible than ever before, reinforcing the demand for transparency and accountability. A generation of “digital natives” have grown up using social networks to connect and mobilize with their peers locally, nationally and across borders.

‘Britain’s Black and Minority Ethnic Politicians: The Next Generation’ Event - © UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Young people frustrated by authoritarian leaders and the lack of opportunities have sought radical change to the political system in their country. Workers who have seen their jobs threatened by globalization have begun to look to populists as an alternative to the political establishment.

Changes in politics

New political movements have emerged to challenge the way politics is done and have acceded to positions of power in some countries. Meanwhile, the percentage of women in parliament has increased, but only from 13.1% to 22.1%. These factors and many more combine to make this a time of challenge and opportunity for democracy. Political parties, parliaments and other institutions are called upon to adapt to changes in society, to renew political processes, to create space in politics for younger generations and to make use of their energy.

The need for more democracy

The aspirations for a fairer world that are set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will only be met if there is more democracy, not less. Political leaders everywhere need to make the connection between the internationally-agreed development goals and the demands from their citizens, including for greater transparency and accountability as well as more participative and inclusive decision-making.

Think pieces

See what these leading thinkers have to say about Democracy 2030:

David Beetham teleports us to the years after 2030, from where he looks back at the catastrophic crises of the 2020s and how citizens came together to reclaim their democratic rights. Read more

Cristiano Ferri argues that the arrival of the citizen-legislator is imminent and that the tools for “legislative intelligence” are already available. Read more

Laura Anthony and Jane Hilderman set out an agenda for making democracies more reflective and sophisticated in how they measure and track their performance. Read more

What do you think? Contribute your own think piece by e-mail to or on Twitter with the #DemocracyDay hashtag

Key Points

  • Imagining the future is fundamental for achieving sustainable and inclusive democracy. The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to challenge ideas and concepts, to bring diverse voices to the table and to engage the general public in an effort to empower citizens
  • Parliaments undergo constant renewal and change and future generations are an intrinsic part of such processes.
  • Innovative thinking is required to create new forms of engagement with parliament and more transparent, accountable and inclusive political processes.
  • Youth have a key role to play in the present and future of democracy. Engaging youth in their own spaces, while at the same time creating spaces for youth in parliaments, is a core part of any effort to reimagine parliaments and democracy in the future.
  • New technologies enhance the ability of parliaments to more directly engage with citizens, as long as parliaments are prepared to listen as well as to speak.
  • To be successful, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires engaged and committed parliaments in order to enable governments to act, while holding them accountable to their commitments.
  • Parliaments are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. As SDG 16 suggests, strong, transparent, accountable and inclusive institutions are key for the achievement of all of the goals.

Reference documents

reference documents

Parliaments may find useful background information in the following documents:

  • Outcome document of the General debate on “Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to youth” at the 134th IPU Assembly in Lusaka (Zambia), March 2016.
    Read More
  • Youth participation in national parliaments
    Read More
  • World e-Parliament Report 2016
    Read More
  • Women in Parliament: The year in review
    Read More

create, share AND WIN!

Win an eGift card valued 50 USD for Apple store or Amazon!

Create a video, Snapchat story, drawing, cartoon or photo essay answering one of the following questions:

  • What do you think democracy will look like in 2030?
  • How would you imagine elections and political participation in 2030?
  • If democracy had a superpower in 2030, what would it be?

Best 10 pieces will win an eGift card valued 50 USD for Apple store or Amazon!

Share it with us through Twitter using the hashtag #DemocracyDay, on Facebook or by e-mail

Deadline for entries is September 18 2016

Guidelines for participants:

    • Between 14 and 24 years old.
    • Can participate individually or in groups.
    • Videos should not exceed 2 minutes (Snapchat stories are welcomed!)
    • Drawings, cartoons, and photo essays should not exceed 2 pages.

democracy fact


The age at which  eligibility for national parliament starts in a third of countries.

Rights to public participation

Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that every citizen has the right and opportunity to:

• Take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives

• Vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors

• Have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.

Democracy 2030

Democracy 2030

Speak up and speak out

Speak up and
speak out

Download the poster

Download free resources

About Democracy

About democracy