Since 2017, we present The Innovation in Politics Awards with the aim to recognise politicians who drive positive change in their communities.
All politicians from the democratic party spectrum from all Council of Europe Member states can submit their innovative projects in the following categories: Community, Democracy, Digitalisation, Ecology, Economy, Education, Human Rights, Quality of Life, and Covid-19 Strategies.
But these Awards couldn’t go ahead without our committed citizens jury of 1,000 Europeans. It is them who select the finalists and winners. They are the heart of our Innovation in Politics Awards.
The evaluation is done anonymously on a secure online platform and to be part of it, you simply have to come from or reside in a member country of the Council of Europe.
The projects that are submitted to be awarded are of broad significance, so it’s quite remarkable to have a say in what policies will be helping cities in the future.
We’ve asked our jurors from the previous Awards why they joined our initiative, and what is, to them, innovation as a driver of political best practice. Their stories honor us, they centre and strengthen our mission, and always remind us of the fabric of what it takes to achieve good political work – that is not only an exercise in humbleness, leadership and awareness but the centerfold of so many different and yet cohesive examples of a strong democracy.
We share with you some of the most motivating, moving and insightful answers we have received from our jurors. We hope they will inspire you to join this year’s jury, too, and help us shine a light on the most courageous and creative politicians in Europe.
“What distinguishes this award from many others is the 1.000-strong citizens’ jury which is, in my opinion, the greatest way to revolutionise politics in Europe, but also around the globe as it is influencing other countries to increase residents’ engagement in politics. ‘You can plan a whole new world on paper, but you have to build it out of people’ (Frank Buchman). This quote could best describe this award, an award that esteems exactly what politics failed to in the last decades: people. Political innovation is the art of understanding societies’ evolution and creating, accordingly, sustainable projects which invest and perceive humans as solutions rather than problems.”
“It was so exciting and thrilling to read and learn in detail about all the candidates’ projects and later on to check up their journey’s evolution and progress. All those amazing and inspiring individuals who created the projects deserve all our respect and admiration.”
Tatiana Biciuc, Moldova
“I love the opportunity to see how other places in Europe look at solving problems and comparing them to how we do so here. There’s a lot we can learn from close, international cooperation and lessons we can adapt to better improve our own decision making process”.
Daniel Lynch, Ireland
“I loved the chance to see the imaginative ways in which dedicated people all across Europe are trying to make their community a better place, often in parallel to one another. It moves me to see how across borders and languages and cultures people from one end of the continent to the other are all faced with similar challenges, and act on them with similar determination. The Innovation in Politics Awards provide these dispersed efforts with a forum to bring them together, so we can see how they dovetail, learn from one another, and multiply their force.”
Eoghan Thomas Moran, Ireland
“To transcend the boundaries of established systems and rules in politics, we need the courage to make changes and not to take advantage of populism. We need systemic and solution focused ways of thinking with short term effects in the frame of long term positive vision in people’s lives through politics. It’s a kind of “creative gardening” of public systems and policies for people.”
Petr Friedrich, Czechia
“[The Awards] open a door for a win-win situation, where society can benefit from the practical constructive projects while their creators get the deserved appreciation and promotion for them. I see political innovation as a new approach in finding solutions to the main problems with which the society at large is confronted, with focus on fairness and giving a chance to the voices less heard to be listened to; political innovation is not static, but progressive, changing as many times is needed and improving the agenda of things to do, as for the political innovation the most essential and only agenda is the welfare of all people.”
Ion-Marius Tatomir, United Kingdom
“What I like is not about the Award, it is about triggering young minds and motivating them to contribute to the community by their input. Political innovation is what brings improvements on old ideas to make them less flawed and this should be based on experience. At the same time innovations are completely new ideas and alternatives when old systems stop working or fail in providing prosperity and progress. The aim is not to let stagnation prevent progress.”
“[Political innovation means] Looking beyond party definitions and dogmas; looking for affordable, viable solutions to social problems through lived experience, thinking outside the box, and circumventing toxic lobbies (as much as that is possible).”
Alexandra Nima, Austria
“The Awards encourage citizens to contribute to the positive advancement of Europe in various fields. In addition, they unite existing cultural diversity for one common goal, namely the improvement of European civilisation.”
A Yani, Germany
“Learning about different perspectives of problem-solving where innovation becomes the main drive of positive change. Discovering innovative approaches in different regions and estimating their capacity to be replicated as good practices in other contexts.”
Ana Alibegova – North Macedonia
“I like that the Awards’s last edition happened fully online despite the pandemic.”
Maria Okonska, Poland
“[Political innovation is about] Being brave in looking for solutions and not accepting that we cannot do something. Always thinking about how we can deliver for our community and not being afraid of doing something different just because we haven’t done it before.”
Councillor Stewart Hunter, Scotland
“The Awards provide a framework for people to express their ideas about domestic governance and use their creativity, while motivating them to cross the barrier of intimidation by submitting their proposals. The adaptation of governance with the ever-ending developments of the society. As human beings evolve, the models of governance/democracy should adapt to the changing demands of the people, through political innovation, to establish a more inclusive and homogeneous representative relationship between governments and people.”
Stéphanie Abou Chedid
“[I enjoyed seeing] Different approaches to similar challenges in different parts of Europe, but with the common sense for further pushing the boundaries between humans, peace and limitless possibilities. #awesome”
“Political innovation happens through the work of autonomous citizens who are oriented by a vision of the collective that reduces inequalities and stimulates a level of participation capable of maturing democracy in the region. Models of representative democracy have proved to be remarkably stable in European and North-American countries. Alternatives such as direct democracy have been propagated but they have never been able to overthrow the dominant model of choosing parliamentary and executive representatives to act for the people. This does not mean that these alternatives had no effect.”
Magda Katopi, Greece
“To me, innovation links to one’s imagination. We can only innovate as far as we can dream. Therefore, to me, an ideal political innovation happens when a (diverse) group of individuals gets together and creates a new approach to a problem, benefiting a whole community of people in a way we haven’t seen before.”
Vanda Proskova, Czechia
“The main problem with many of our political systems is that not everyone is included. Political innovation therefore often means including people that so far haven’t been included in political processes and thereby creating real democracy. Being innovative in politics can also mean employing strategies known from activism and indigenous knowledge in participatory political processes.”
Smaranda Krings, Austria
“Innovation in politics is taking into account the aspirations of a community in the programme activity. It is the fulfillment of human ambitions as far as possible in a given community and the achievement of satisfactory results. Despite many promises, politics often ignores local conditions and fails to meet local expectations.”
Marta Chełkowska, Poland
If our jurors’ statements sparked your interest, please find all necessary information about the citizens’s jury and the Awards process here. We look forward to hearing from you!
*The above answers have been edited for clarity and conciseness.