Liquid Democracy Workshop

We are glad to announce that the first interdisciplinary academic workshop on liquid democracy will take place at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday, December 15 and Friday, December 16, 2022.

Registration for the public roundtable now open
Details below

Workshop description

The field of democratic innovations aims at identifying and studying ideas, instruments and practices that can help improving the quality of collective decision-making in modern democratic systems. Within this area of research, one innovation has gained increasing visibility: the concept of liquid democracy. This voting paradigm rose to prominence in the early 2010s, mainly thanks to the adaption and experience of the German Pirate Party using the software LiquidFeeback. Since then, scholars from the most diverse disciplines have engaged with the idea of liquid democracy, testing its technical viability, and assessing its legitimacy. As of today, notable academic contributions stem from applied mathematics, positive political science as well as political and legal theory.

The proposed workshop will bring together this diverse and interdisciplinary community of scholars. Our aim is to enable exchange among researchers and to identify the state of the art in this research field. We want to start a productive dialogue that can create and foster a shared understanding of liquid democracy, its concrete potential and limitations as seen from complementary perspectives. From mathematics to political science, from computer science to law, from economics to philosophy: researchers in all disciplines are welcome!

The workshop will address questions as diverse as:

  • What is liquid democracy, what kind of concept is it and how can we best define it?
  • Where can liquid democracy be applied (private vs political, party vs government)?
  • Which liquid democracy models are best suited to derive useful and realistic insights? What are the mathematical problems they pose?
  • How can we best design software that helps us implement this idea? How can liquid democracy be implemented within existing systems? What are the IT challenges posed by this idea?
  • What are the social, political and legal consequences of introducing this idea? And how does liquid democracy impact political participation?
  • How should we implement liquid democracy, if at all? Is it a legitimate form of decision-making? What normative problems does it help solving?

This workshop provides a unique opportunity to get into touch with the research community and exchange ideas. We especially encourage people in the early stages of their academic carrier to participate and share their work in progress as papers or posters. We also welcome industry experts presenting case studies and real-world applications.

The Call for Papers is now closed.

Public Roundtable

The workshop will also feature a public roundtable with liquid democracy experts:

This roundtable will take place on Thursday, December 15, from 6 to 8 pm local time at the Institute of Political Science of the University of Zurich. 

Full address: Affolternstrasse 56, 8050 Zürichroom AFL-F-121
Find the event on the University of Zurich’s agenda

The discussion will be live streamed on Zoom with the possibility to ask questions remotely via the chat. 

The roundtable is open to and free for everyone, but pre-registration is strongly encouraged by Tuesday, December 13. Whether you plan on attending the public roundtable in person or remotely, please let us know by signing up here.

Online participants will receive all Zoom details per email after the registration.

Organizing team

This event is organized by Lucien Heitz (University of Zurich), Cristina Sarasua (University of Zurich), Manon Revel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Chiara Valsangiacomo (University of Zurich, member of DemocracyNet).

Funding by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Graduate Campus of the University of Zurich and the doctoral program Democracy Studies is gratefully acknowledged.

For further queries you can contact us at: