It took Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout 80 days to circumnavigate the globe in the famous 19th-century French novel. Bruno Kaufmann has no manservant but more time, and in his pocket is a Global Passport to Modern Direct Democracy.
A few days ago, Swiss-Swedish author and journalist Kaufmann set off on a tour through more than 20 countries on four continents, with a first stop in Boston on the east coast of the United States.
The Pacific region is a key focus of the six-month trip, which will take him to destinations as diverse as the island country of Palau in the Micronesian archipelago, as well as China, Japan, Australia, Laos and Hawaii.
In between he will also travel in the US, Canada, and several countries in Europe, including his native Switzerland and the Scandinavian region, which has been his home since 1990. The tour is due to end in Canada’s east coast city of Halifax next May.
During the tour, he will meet democracy activists, independence campaigners, local journalists, Buddhist monks, Swiss expatriates and even heads of state.
What does it take to launch such an adventure? Kaufmann says it is a mixture of “plenty of confidence, positive gut instincts, some organisational skills and a well-functioning back office.”
Report, inform and support
His aim is to report in several languages from the many destinations as global democracy correspondent for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, including swissinfo.ch, and to support stakeholders in the democratic process on behalf of the German non-governmental organisation, Democracy Internationalexternal link.
Also in his suitcase is the new Global Passport to Modern Direct Democracyexternal link, he recently wrote for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)external link in cooperation with the Swiss foreign ministry.
It is a 45-page booklet that provides basic information about the tools for citizens and participatory democracy.
“I hope to contribute to making democracy a little bit more democratic,” says the 52-year old Kaufmann about the motives of his tour. “But I’m not a missionary. I will meet people who are involved in democracy issues in their respective countries and societies and who might be interested in getting support and wish to become part of the global democracy community.”
In the back of his mind is also the next Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy in Rome, Italy, in September of next year, as well as a former Finnish prime minister (and reporter), Paavo Lipponen.
“For decades – and without holding a driver’s licence – he has been travelling across Finland and the world fighting for peace and democracy,” Kaufmann says of his role model Lipponen.
Democracy world tour
swissinfo.ch will publish a series of multimedia reports by Kaufmann over the next few months as part of its coverage of direct democracy issues.
Kaufmann's democracy world tour is primarily funded by the Swiss Democracy Foundation, where he is the Director of International Cooperation. It is also supported by independent groups and projects such as Democracy International, people2power.infoexternal link, IRI Europe and the Direct Democracy Navigator.