Europe's Global Direct Democracy Think-Tank


The Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe (IRI Europe)

is a transnational think-tank dedicated to research and education

on the procedures and practices of modern direct democracy.


IRI Europe was founded 2001 in Amsterdam. The Institute’s main mission is to develop insights into the theory and practice of direct democracy among politicians, the media, NGOs, academics and the public throughout Europe.

Since the early days of this millennium IRI has assisted and advised the EU constitution drafters – first in the Convention, subsequently in the EU institutions and member states, and finally within the electorates across Europe – in seizing the opportunity of developing democratic tools which are both issue-based and pan-European.

As a key result of this work, the first transnational direct-democratic tool – the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) – was established in 2011.

IRI Europe is today an acknowledged research and educational institute focusing on the initiative and referendum process across Europe. With a comprehensive network of experts and correspondents throughout the region, the Institute is uniquely equipped to provide the know-how and the tools Europe (and the wider world) needs.


IRI Europe’s informational and educational materials include handbooks and guidebooks, toolkits for free and fair popular votes (referendums), as well as dedicated materials for schools.

In all its projects IRI Europe cooperates closely with partners from civil society, governmental institutions and international players. Beyond its European focus the Institute has developed a fully-fledged network of cooperations across the globe.

IRI experts have been involved in developing a worldwide database on direct-democratic mechanisms and a Handbook on Direct Democracy for practioners in governments, parliaments, political parties, media, academia and civil society, prepared and published by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

All the materials and information about the organization's new structures will be made available via the completely rebuilt IRI website until February 9th, 2017.

The Institute is led by journalists, politicians, academics and civil society experts from different political parties, backgrounds and countries. A small team of staff coordinates IRI Europe and oversees its growing range of international projects. The Institute has an open approach to cooperation and has developed a far-reaching reputation as Europe’s Direct Democracy Think Tank.