What we lack is either the political will or the institutional capacity to act on them.
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Over the last few decades, from setting budgets in South American cities to framing referenda in Ireland, there have been many experiments in deliberative democracy. This final point is perhaps not surprising given that one of the few institutions in our system that has not come under sustained reputational attack in recent years is the trial jury, this despite the wider problems of criminal justice.
But few if any of the benefits of deliberative democracy will come about until it is a full and integrated part of our political and policy making system. For all the successful experimentation, public misunderstanding, media cynicism and, most of all, political establishment resistance has kept deliberation in the margins in most places and certainly in the UK.
This is why I am currently working up ideas that could be part of a Deliberative Democracy Bill with the aim of floating them in my Annual Lecture. The detail matters and I want to get it right but to build momentum for change we must root the case for deliberation in the parlous state of our society and democracy. Please login to post a comment or reply. Hi, thank you for sharing, very interesting ideas.
What Deliberative Democracy Can (and Can't) Do | Democracy Institute
Thanks a lot in advance for sharing your views and possible experience on this. I am a business person but I graduated in Politics from an "Oxbridge" Italian university when it still was the Italian cradle of liberal thinking Norberto Bobbio and Karl Popper. In my business experience I pragmatically deal with Turkey, India and China but I am skeptical that healthy markets can flourish under non-liberal democracies. In fact I have chosen to live in the UK with my family because it has been one of the European cradles of liberal democracy.
Unfortunately it is being squandered all over Europe, for a simple reason: it has not been nurtured and it has not evolved. But I know it is time to "s'engager", for one of the challenges of our time, in business like in politics, is an excess of "outsurcing". I have the skills and the awareness for capturing the full extent of your thesis.
And I have some time in my hands for "m'engager". Like a start up idea, deliberative democracy needs to get out there, to be practiced like Zaid Hassan, your fellow speaker at the EMF Summit said , to be perfected I have some inputs to that regard. I have spent most of my professional life in making good ideas work. I am willing and able to help yours. I am a committed immigrant to this Country and I have some ideas and time to help..
I know you are a prominent and busy public person but I hope you may want to hear and think about these words of mine. This thoughtful posting by Matthew is bang on the nail and certainly consistent with the RSA ethos. I concur with your analysis on the ills surrounding our democratic processes and also of your concerns that getting traction on any route to significant improvement is going to be tough. However I am unconvinced that two weekend deliberations by a random folk on an important issue will be perceived by either politicians or the public as anything much more than an upmarket opinion poll.
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Governments already use quasi-deliberative polling groups to test policy. It anyway leaves the elected representative politicians holding the reigns and as you say the perception is that they have not served us well.
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What I believe would be of major consequence is to extend the CA concept right to the very top — replacing the elected MPs with a stratified random selection of citizens and leaving everything else as-is in the House of Westminster. They serve for a limited period, be well supported and appoint articulate spokespersons to represent their views and policy proposals obtained through well-informed deliberation.
Facilitators would manage information flow between the Assembly and the Civil Service and ensure gold-plated deliberation takes place. There are of course many details to be worked out but the major benefits would be that the decisions would be trusted by the public, and would generate much better engagement by ordinary folk with how our society is run.
And more critically, the corrupting influences of money, be it via donation or hidden lobbying etc would be greatly reduced. Power is no longer vested in individuals and that can only be for the greater good. Yes, exactly my thoughts - but as you say, revolution, and that won't happen without some sort of major calamity first, from which we'd get a chance to rebuild as you suggest out the rubble. Either they would need to take up the issue, as a real representative of the borough, or they would have to deliver a formally-structured rebuttal saying why they won't pursue it there are potential responses in between these two options, but let's just keep it simple here.
I think any MP who rebutted too many of these verdicts may find themselves voted out next time, if the CA is a real representative cross section. This could even work at national level, where multiple regional CAs since as you say, one single CA could be written off too easily , if together deliver a supra-majority on a topic, then parliament would be legally bound to respond as well. This system would, of course, put pollsters out of work, at least for single-topic questions. In as secretary for a newly mutualised tenant and employee social housing association in the North West of England, I went to great lengths to try and provide the space for deliberation.
It is very difficult to get right. In particular getting the communications of different stakeholders to join up and the time necessary to enable sufficiently meaningful and searching discussions and conclusions. I look forward to reading your speech. Although I would agree that almost everyone is better off today than sixty years ago, in that we have a higher standard of living, whatever that might mean, I would argue that our quality of life has deteriorated significantly. The quality of our surroundings such as the state of our public buildings and stucures, the public facilities available to all, the state of our infrastructure and the safety of children in public areas have all declined to an alarming extent compared with my childhood experiences in the s and s.
One of the key causes of this is the perceived political expediency of starving local taxation systems of adequate funds because of the fundamentally unfair methods of local taxation. This is a political view which has persisted for fifty years rather than any attempt to make local taxation fair and adequate. Indeed, it would appear that Westminster politics has relied on the idea that popularism is aligned to reduced spending, despite very large sums of mony being wasted on large scale vetures with little or no public benefit. In addition, there has been no attempt to consider how people can be involved to design functional national health and national social insurance schemes that will work fairly and be adequately funded.
One of the problems is that many people are still guided by the press barons with respect to what they see as sacred cows. Certainly the social contract is broken, but we must first seek to consider what the objectives of deliberate democracy should be. I would argue that our current political system is not democratic but more like an elected dictatership if you don't like our rubbish, the other parties' rubish is worse - take it or leave it.
So we need to find a way forward. Is deliberative democracy key to a 21st century social contract? Save to my RSA. The collapse of the social contract In making the case for my recent review of modern employment and, in particular, about the need for all work to be good work, I talked about the breakdown of the post Second World War social contract.
We have to put the parts of the argument together: for the foreseeable future it is very unlikely that any Government of our country can meet public aspirations for rising living standards, economic security, and social cohesion the flaws of our democratic system are becoming worse with, for example, our main political parties becoming ever less representative of the people as a whole social media, which is now the main site of civic political dialogue, is clearly better suited to protest, abuse and polarisation than problem solving and collaboration.
Deliberative democracy to the rescue Over the last few decades, from setting budgets in South American cities to framing referenda in Ireland, there have been many experiments in deliberative democracy. Participants are willing to work within the parameters set for the process, for example working within financial limits as part of participative budgeting. The framing, design and facilitation of deliberative processes are vital.
Doing it badly or not authentically is arguably worse than not doing it all. Whilst it is easy for cynics to caricature deliberation, if the wider public understand and can see the process in action they respect it and the conclusions it reaches. But it has to be real But few if any of the benefits of deliberative democracy will come about until it is a full and integrated part of our political and policy making system.
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Join the discussion Please login to post a comment or reply. Don't have an account? Environmental management systems and the third sector: exploring weak adoption in the UK Edwards, R. Environmental management systems and the third sector: exploring weak adoption in the UK. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy. Towards a comparative analysis of democratic innovations: lessons from a small-n fsQCA of participatory budgeting Ryan, M.
Towards a comparative analysis of democratic innovations: lessons from a small-n fsQCA of participatory budgeting. Associative democracy and the social economy: exploring the regulatory challenge Smith, G.
Associative democracy and the social economy: exploring the regulatory challenge. Economy and Society. Legislating for a big society? The case of the public services social enterprise and social value bill in England Teasdale, S. The case of the public services social enterprise and social value bill in England.
Public Money and Management. The Good Society. Smith, G. Empowerment and disempowerment of the European citizen Oxford Hart.