Deliberation is no silver bullet for the ‘problem’ of populism

Article by Kristof Jacobs: “Populists are not satisfied with the way democracy works nowadays. They do not reject liberal democracy outright, but want it to change. Indeed, they feel the political elite is unresponsive. Not surprisingly, then, populist parties thrive in settings where there is widespread feeling that politicians do not listen to the people.

What if… decision-makers gave citizens a voice in the decision-making process? In fact, this is happening across the globe. Democratic innovations, that is: decision-making processes that aim to deepen citizens’ participation and engagement in political decision-making, are ever more popular. They come in many shapes and forms, such as referendums, deliberative mini-publics or participatory budgeting. Deliberative democratic innovations in particular are popular, as is evidenced by the many nation-level citizens’ assemblies on climate change. We have seen such assemblies not only in France, but also in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Spain and Austria.

Several prominent scholars of deliberation contend that deliberation promotes considered judgment and counteracts populism

Scholars of deliberation are optimistic about the potential of such deliberative events. In one often-cited piece in Science, several prominent scholars of deliberation contend that ‘[d]eliberation promotes considered judgment and counteracts populism’.

But is that optimism warranted? What does the available empirical research tell us? To examine this, one must distinguish between populist citizens and populist parties…(More)”.

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