Born 1933 in Czechoslovakia, Jiri Polak lived there under both Nazi and Soviet occupations of his homeland. After finishing high school in the early 1950s, he took a job as a technical translator at a research institute and then did some government work, already having decided with his wife that they needed to defect to the West, which they did during an official visit to Rome in 1965. This led them to Sweden, where he pursued doctoral work the University of Lund.
From 1979-86 Jiri pursed studies in political science, sociology and history at the University of Lund, where he obtained his Ph.D. in political science. His dissertation predicted a rather imminent disintegration of the Soviet Bloc owing to economic failures. Nobody believed him. In 1989, the Berlin Wall crumbled. Nevertheless, he soldiered on doing some short-term teaching jobs and some work as a special assistant at the Immigration Office of the town of Malmö.
When Dr. Polok retired, he began his real work, as an organizer of global direct democracy. As such, he was a founder of the first ever International Congress on Direct Democracy that was held in Pribram, a suburb of Prague, in 1998. As a result, an international network developed with Dr. Polak becoming the editor in chief of the quarterly Worldwide DD Newsletter. This was renamed ten years later as the Direct Democratic Euro-Vision Newsletter because it shifted its focus to Europe.
Dr. Polak is also a strong advocate in both Czech and European circles of enhancing direct democracy through many new deliberative democratic processes and techniques and is one of the originators of the concept of Direct Deliberative Democracy, or D3.