Popularisation of complex issues

Popularization of complex issues in an inclusive manner for collective decision-making: the case of Swiss direct democracy.


      Worldwide, there is a trend to popular dissatisfaction and mistrust in politics and the public administration. Switzerland has a long tradition of direct democracy, whereby citizen get the final say on any legislative proposal and can decide on adding an article to the Federal constitution. Votes happen 4 times a year. However, participation in these votes is relatively low, at about 45% on average. Furthermore, there is a growing complexity in the issues that come to a vote (including fiscal and environmental policy for example). 

Facing this challenge and to ensure a higher participation rate, better decision-making and stronger social cohesion, the State of Geneva is rethinking its political rights’ strategy. This workshop with the ENoLL community thus will contribute to the further development of our direct democracy.


      The workshop’s objective is twofold. Before a vote, each citizen of Geneva receives a letter by mail. This voting material comprises the voting bulletin and a large brochure comprising: 

 1) a neutral description of the object;

 2) arguments of proponents and opponents; 

 3) the full text of the law; 

 4) voting recommendations of political parties. 

First, we want to reimagine the process in which the complex information is gathered, simplified and agreed upon by the state and all relevant stakeholders prior to being sent out to citizens. Put otherwise, the aim is to simplify a complex information issue. 

Second, we want to co-create a tangible support to communicate and distribute this information.

 We would welcome ideas including exploring the use of new technologies.


For participants, the workshop will provide three key benefits: 

1) A jointly defined (during the workshop) co-creation methodology for designing a process to define and agree upon the simplification of a complex issue;

 2) A process for distribution and communication of a simplified complex issue ensuring inclusion of all parts of the population; 

3) A better understanding of Swiss direct democracy and its actual workings.


The methodology is based on Design Thinking. We will make use of an innovation game specifically designed to target this issue. A particular attention will be paid to the different groups for which the popularized information is intended (personas, etc.)


Workshop Facilitators