Debate and Decide: Innovative Participatory Governance in South Australia 2010–2018

Paper by Matt D. Ryan: “This article provides an account of how innovative participatory governance unfolded in South Australia between 2010 and 2018. In doing so it explores how an ‘interactive’ political leadership style, which scholarship argues is needed in contemporary democracy, played out in practice. Under the leadership of Premier Jay Weatherill this approach to governing, known as ‘debate and decide’, became regarded as one of the most successful examples of democratic innovation globally. Using an archival and media method of analysis the article finds evidence of the successful application of an interactive political leadership style, but one that was so woven into competitive politics that it was abandoned after a change in government in March 2018. To help sustain interactive political leadership styles the article argues for research into how a broader base of politicians perceives the benefits and risks of innovative participatory governance. It also argues for a focus on developing politicians’ collaborative leadership capabilities. However, the article concludes by asking: if political competition is built into our system of government, are we be better off leveraging it, rather than resisting it, in the pursuit of democratic reform?…(More)”.

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