Economic Democracy

FEPS launches an initiative on Economic Democracy


The current economic system has concentrated power in the hands of the few and created record inequality. A new paradigm must be created.

FEPS in partnership with Open Society Foundations, has launched an initiative on Economic Democracy with the aim of exploring and spreading best practices and strategies to build people power in the economic domain. 

The initiative will study experiences of democratic transformation in economic, employment and public administration domains in order to understand the driving factors and successful strategies that result in the transfer of economic power to people – to build up a “theory of change” and to identify economic policy strategies that put economics at the service of the society.

On the conceptual side, some important questions that need to be addressed are the following:

  • What are the features of economic democracy? How do we distinguish democratic economic policies from the rest?
  • How to make economic policies transformative by changing power relations?
  • Who should drive the democratic economic transformation and how to organize it?
  • How should governments and public authorities adapt their processes to ensure more democratic oversight and participation in key socio-economic areas?

The main focus of the initiative will be however on the practice. A survey of economic democracy initiatives will be carried out to collect their experiences in the following areas.

Focus areas:

  • Democracy in public spending
  • Democracy at the Workplace
  • Democratizing public services
  • Democratizing urban planning

Why economic democracy?   

The multiple crises of today are inherently interlinked, reinforcing one another. Yet, in public debate they are often compartamentalised: the crisis of capitalism, the crisis of democracy, environmental crisis. In fact, they are very much intertwined. To many progressive thinkers, it is evident that the current capitalist system is a major cause of the democratic and environmental degradation. We will not be able to solve these crises without substantially revamping the capitalist market economy, probably replacing it by something conceptually different.  

The question is what concepts, institutions and political actions are required to enable us to move from an economy driven by a narrow self-interest of elite groups to an economy serving the common good. We contend it is economic democracy – a set of institutions and practices that produces a fair economic outcome, but also uses democratic processes to arrive at such results.

Notably, the new economic paradigm has to emerge through democratic processes. The question is how existing democratic processes and new democratic innovations can help foster the emergence of such a new paradigm.


In case you are interested in the topic, you have valuable experiences to share, or you wish to participate in events or are aware of a democratic initiative that can be included in the survey, please reach out to FEPS Economic Policy Analyst Anna Kolesnichenko at

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