The People’s Meeting: Strengthening democracy during the pandemic

‘Folkemødet’ (Danish for ‘The People’s Meeting’) is an annual open-air festival that brings together politicians, lobbyists, businesses and citizens for a week of democratic debate on the Danish Island of Bornholm. But Covid-19 social distancing measures put the festival at risk.

Netcompany stepped in as a sponsor to create a new digital platform that allowed Folkemødet 2021 to be held both digitally and live on Bornholm. For the first time, the whole country had the opportunity to attend Folkemødet.

Folkemødet is vitally important to Danish people. Since it began in June 2011, it has acted as a democratic forum for the discussion of important societal issues that affect both our country and the world. Over the years, the event has grown in strength and numbers with around 114,000 people attending each summer.

But the COVID-19 pandemic obviously changed that. With tickets limited to only 14,000 for the 2021 event, the opportunities for debate were limited. So, when the organisers asked us to help take the real-life, openair meeting online, we were honoured to help.

We created a virtual festival at folkemødet.dk. Presenters used this platform to create and host their programs – and participants used it to experience the full program, including following and participating in livestreamed events, and watching or listening to debates on-demand. People were able to join in from wherever they were, thanks to online meetings, digital interaction and livestreamed events from all over Denmark.

"At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Folkemødet’ worked with Netcompany to create a virtual platform that would allow the democratic debate to stay alive during these difficult times. Thanks to this platform, it was possible for a variety of so many democratic voices to engage in the essential dialogue about our society, our democracy and our shared future."

- Camilla Laudrup, Director, Foreningen Folkemødet

In addition to sponsoring Folkemødet, Netcompany also hosted events. These included a panel discussion on primary schools and how to combine teaching online and in person in the future; a debate on what diversity means for Denmark and our workplaces in the future, and our own André Rogaczewski took to the hot seat and opened the floor for a debate about digital development and the opportunities to use it to ensure a thriving business, healthcare, education and public services sector.

Our digital approach to the festival caught the attention of anthropologists from University of Copenhagen. They’re including Folkemødet, and how it was delivered this year, in their research into attention dynamics and social networks during political events in Denmark.

Thanks to our platform, Folkemødet 2021 was taken online for the first time. This helped to make the festival even more democratic as people who may not have been able to join in person – either because of the pandemic, the distance to its location or to limits on space – were able to participate remotely. Out of 268 debates, 198 were livestreamed and have been watched more than 47,000 times via folkemodet.dk.

Looking ahead, we will continue to work with Folkemødet by looking at how to further develop the hybrid format, so that even more people can participate in the democratic dialogue at future Folkemødet events – regardless of time and location.