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The Lyberg conference 2023

A Crucial Dialogue on Democracy, Media, and Opinion Polls

On december 1st, the annual Lyberg Conference, organized by Demoskop since 2021 in memory of the esteemed statistician Lars Lyberg, convened in Stockholm.

This year’s theme, ”Opinion Polls, Media, and Democracy,” couldn’t be more timely, as democracies and independent media worldwide face unprecedented challenges and threats.

The conference was held in the backdrop of alarming trends as evidenced by some recent research reports: only 13% of the global population lives in liberal democracies (according to reports from the Varieties of Democracy research programme (V-Dem) at the University of Gothenburg, increasing censorship of the media and declining freedom of expression in numerous countries (according to FreedomHouse reports).

The discussions at the conference, attended by experts like Allison Gow, Jennifer Agiesta, Karin Schmidt Hellsing, and Gunnar Hökmark, revolved around the challenges facing democracy, media, and opinion polling. They explored how these elements could constructively contribute to democratic processes.

Lilli Japec of Statistics Sweden opened the conference with a Key Note, where she talked about AI’s role in enhancing public statistics and opinion polling, among other insightful things.

Jennifer Agiesta, from CNN, discussed the role of opinion polls in bridging political polarization and understanding electoral outcomes.

Alison Gow highlighted the rise in news avoidance and the shift towards video-based social media among younger generations, posing a potential threat to democracy if citizens remain uninformed.

Kathleen Frankovic, with her rich experience from CBS News and YouGov, emphasized the critical role of opinion polls in democracies. Her insights from the ESOMAR and WAPOR report revealed the restrictions on electoral surveys in many countries and the risks faced by pollsters in certain regions.

In a Swedish context, Karin Schmidt Hellsing from Aftonbladet shared insights on building trust and engagement through concise, relevant content, working closely with Demoskop.

Gunnar Hökmark argued passionately for the importance of opinion polls in democracies, especially in understanding public opinion amidst rising threats and extremist movements. He also emphasized the central function of opinion polls to represent the voices of the entire population, not only the opinions of the most strongly politically interested citizens.

In summary, the Lyberg Conference 2023 was a vital platform for discussing the interplay between democracy, media, and opinion polling. It offered valuable perspectives and potential strategies for maintaining vibrant democracies and fostering an open, knowledge-based debate climate.

If you missed it, you can watch it here, on our Youtube channel

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