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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(11), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7110236

Deepening and Connecting Democratic Processes. The Opportunities and Pitfalls of Mini-Publics in Renewing Democracy

School of Governance, Utrecht University, Bijlhouwerstraat 6, 3511 ZC Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Received: 20 September 2018 / Revised: 8 November 2018 / Accepted: 13 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
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Abstract

In recent decades, so-called “mini-publics” have been organized in many countries to renew policy making and democracy. One characteristic of mini-publics is that the selection of the participants is based on random sampling or sortition. This gives each member of the community an equal chance of being selected. Another feature is that deliberation forms the core of the process of how proposals are developed. In this paper, we investigate the possibilities and challenges of sortition and deliberation in the context of the call for a deepening of democracy and more citizen engagement in policy making. Based on extensive research on citizens’ forums (G1000) in The Netherlands, we show the potential of mini-publics, but a number of shortcomings as well. Some of these are related to the specific design of the G1000, while others are of a more fundamental nature and are due to the contradictory democratic values that deliberative mini-publics try to combine. One of these concerns the tension between the quality of deliberation and political impact. We conclude that combining institutional approaches could be a way out to deal with these tensions and a step forward to both deepen and connect democratic processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: democratic innovation; mini-public; legitimacy; deliberative forums; sortition; democratic values democratic innovation; mini-public; legitimacy; deliberative forums; sortition; democratic values
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Michels, A.; Binnema, H. Deepening and Connecting Democratic Processes. The Opportunities and Pitfalls of Mini-Publics in Renewing Democracy. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 236.

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