The Berggruen Institute is dedicated to the design and implementation of new ideas of good governance -- drawing from practices in both East and West -- that can be brought to bear on the common challenges of globalization in the 21st century.

We are an independent, non-partisan “think and action tank” that engages cutting edge entrepreneurs, global thinkers and political leaders from around the world as key participants in our projects.

The great transition of our time is from American-led globalization 1.0 to the interdependence of plural identities that characterizes globalization 2.0 as the dominance of the West recedes with the rise of the rest. A political and cultural awakening, amplified by social media, is part and parcel of this shift, and good governance must respond by devolving power and involving citizens more meaningfully in governing their communities. At the same time, we believe that accountable institutions must be created that can competently manage the global links of interdependence.

21st Century Council

A forum for dialogue on global governance, with a focus on the G-20 as the governing body of globalization. Members include former heads of state, global entrepreneurs and political thinkers.

Council for the Future of Europe

This Council gathers a small group of the region's most eminent political figures to research and debate ways forward for a united Europe.

Think Long Committee for California

Develops comprehensive approaches to repairing California's broken system of governance while evaluating policies and institutions vital for the state's long-term future.

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28 September 2014

Bill marks first major changes in four decades to California's century-old initiative process

Sacramento –  Addressing concerns about the growing influence of special interests on California’s initiative process and the decline of voter participation, Governor Jerry Brown today signed legislation that strengthens Legislative and public oversight of ballot measures and increases transparency within a century-old process that has been stubbornly resistant to change.

“SB1253 strengthens the integrity of the initiative process, which is uniquely influential in California political life,” said Nicolas Berggruen, Think Long Committee for California chairman. “It introduces transparency of funding while also enabling broader debate and public review so that measures can be modified before they go to the ballot, avoiding unintended consequences. “

SB 1253, the Ballot Initiative Transparency Act, was authored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Under the new law the Legislature holds hearings months before ballots go to print, allowing lawmakers and proponents to make changes, corrections and compromises before ballots go to the voters. Initiative backers also gain the ability to correct mistakes before an initiative appears on the ballot, preventing drafting or legal errors that have led to litigation and confusion.  And the law pushes the Secretary of State to feature the top funders of proposed initiatives in online ballot materials.

“Together these changes let voters and the Legislature see what the ballot might look like months before the election,” said Robert Hertzberg, former Assembly Speaker and Think Long Committee member.  “That lets lawmakers get to work on the policy issues at the heart of the various initiatives, make them public, make compromises, and fix errors, so voters get only clear and effective initiatives on their ballots. These changes are about making better public policy and making initiatives serve their intended purpose.”

“California is not the only state to allow direct voter participation through initiatives.  But too often here, ballot measures are confusing and poorly written, and there has been no chance for initiative backers to make even the most routine changes let alone drive compromise,” said Ronald George, former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and a member of the Think Long Committee. “All of that stands in the way of voter confidence and understanding, and leads to bad policy outcomes.”

The changes in the law reflect what voters want to see.  Nearly eight in 10 California voters want to see the Legislature do more to improve initiatives, want review and revision of measures, and support more clarity and information surrounding initiatives – and their support crosses party lines according to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California.  But according to PPIC, the last significant reforms to the process date back to 1974.

Other changes in the law: initiative backers can withdraw a measure after petitions and signatures are submitted, but before ballots are printed, simplifying the ballot and helping to avoid unintended consequences; voters can request an email version of the voter guide, reducing costs; and extends the time for signature gathering by a month to allow more grassroots participation.

Initiative reform was a central recommendation in the Think Long Committee’s “Blueprint to Renew California,” released in November 2011. This bipartisan plan to restore the state’s dysfunctional democracy was based on a year of discussions and meetings with key stakeholders in the state, including Governor Brown.

On SB 1253, the Think Long Committee worked for a year with a diverse and bipartisan coalition from across the political spectrum. Other supporters of the legislation include the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, the California Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable, California NAACP, California AARP, California School Employees Assn., California Council of Churches IMPACT, and California Forward, among others.

The Ballot Initiative Transparency Act addresses California voters’ greatest concerns about the initiative process. According to a PPIC survey earlier this year, 83% of Californians agree that initiative wording is too complicated and confusing. 84% favor increasing public disclosure of funding sources for both signature gathering and initiative campaigns. And 77% support a review process to help avoid legal problems and drafting errors.

A key strategy in their work to improve policy outcomes, is the Think Long Committee’s work to increase voter and civic participation. Voters greatly value their direct say in the political process via initiatives, Berggruen noted, but they also feel that the integrity of the process has eroded.

“The new law will give voters clear information about who special interests are, what they want, and how much they are spending,” Berggruen said.  “At the same time the Legislature and proponents of ballot measures will have avenues for correction and compromise, paving the way for clearer ballots and better policies.”

18 September 2014

We invite you to tune into a livestream of the special event “The Ukraine Crisis: What’s Next for Europe?” this Monday at 3:15pm EST. Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister of Sweden, and Mario Monti, former Prime Minister of Italy, will address the Ukrainian crisis and its implications for Europe. The event is part of the 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe sponsored by Harvard’s Center for European Studies and The WorldPost. The link for the livestream can be found here

The Ukraine Crisis: What’s Next for Europe?
“Security is like oxygen--you tend not to notice it until you begin to lose it, but once that occurs there is nothing else that you will think about.” – Dr. Jospeh Nye, Foreign Affairs, July/August 1995
The Ukraine crisis has brought to fore the existential threats facing Europe. The question of what steps are needed to maintain and enhance European security has taken on renewed urgency, both among foreign policy experts and in the wider public.
In this keynote event of the 2014 Summit on the Future of Europe, Carl Bildt and Mario Monti will address the most pressing threats facing the European continent, and discuss what policy options are open to countering them.  Some of the issues that will be explored include, should European leaders confront or co-opt Russia? How can Europe overcome the danger posed by the continent’s continued reliance on Russian gas? In light of America’s isolationist temptations, can NATO-members count on the solidarity of the United States in case of armed conflict? For that matter, can Central and Eastern European nations count on the solidarity of their Western neighbors?
The event will be broadcast live over the web. A discussion with Professor Grzegorz Ekiert (Director of Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies) and a Q&A session with students will follow the keynote address.

29 July 2014

In 2010 the Berggruen Institute on Governance founded the Think Long Committee for California, a high-powered group of eminent citizens with broad experience in public affairs, labor, and business.

The name of the group itself implied its main objective: to introduce a depoliticized, non-partisan and long-term agenda as a corrective to the partisan rancor and short-term, special interest political culture that has come to dominate California political life.

After deliberating a year in monthly sessions, the group released its "Blueprint to Renew California" in 2011 - a bipartisan plan to renew California's dysfunctional democracy.

As the work has transitioned from developing solutions to advocating for change the work of the Think Long Committee now falls under a newly formed 501(c)(4).