From small-scale experiments, deliberative mini-publics have recently taken a constitutional turn in Europe.
Iceland and Ireland have turned to deliberative democracy to reform their constitutions. Estonia, Luxembourg and Romania have also experienced constitutional process in a deliberative mode. In Belgium the G1000, a citizen-led initiative of deliberative democracy, has fostered a wider societal debate about the role and place of citizens in the country’s democracy.
At the same time, European institutions have introduced different forms of deliberative democracy as a way to connect citizens back in. These empirical cases are emblematic of a possibly constitutional turn in deliberative democracy in Europe.
The purpose of this book is to critically assess these developments, bringing together academics involved in the designing of these new forms of constitutional deliberative democracy with the theorists who propagated the ideas and evaluated democratic standards.
'This book explores the theory and practice of deliberate and deliberative citizen engagement in shaping the political futures of European states. Building on the lessons of innovative experiences in several states, the analysis illustrates new approaches to designing and managing institutional reform and charts the new frontiers of democratic constitution making.'
R.K. Carty, The University of British Columbia
'Innovations based upon deliberative mini-publics and which also involve the wider public sphere represent a crucial experiment. With them, and with the new Latin-American constitutionalism, based upon participatory democracy, constitution-making has entered a new era. This book provides a first comparative analysis of the European part of the story. It helps us to understand how democratic deliberation within small groups can be coupled with deliberative democracy of the public. It is worth reading for understanding the 21st century.'
Yves Sintomer, Paris 8 University
'Responding to the current crisis in representative legitimacy, over the past two decades various forms of citizen consultation and temporary representation by lot have been introduced in Europe and a number of other countries. If these designs and mechanisms can be appropriately adapted to citizen needs, they hold the promise of adding greatly to democratic legitimacy. The greatest need now is for experimentation and thorough analysis. This book takes a great step forward in reporting experiments in the use of citizen consultation and randomized representation in constitutional design in Iceland, Ireland, and Belgium. The experiments themselves are heartwarming stories of human ingenuity and citizen public spirit. The penetrating analysis that follows raises important questions for deliberative democracy and suggests which features of the experiments we might want to take forward. Anyone with a serious interest in democratic innovation should read this book.'
Jane Mansbridge, Harvard University