When Citizens Decide: Lessons from Citizen Assemblies on Electoral Reform by Patrick FournierWhen Citizens Decide: Lessons from Citizen Assemblies on Electoral Reform by Patrick Fournier

When Citizens Decide: Lessons from Citizen Assemblies on Electoral Reform

byPatrick Fournier, Henk van der Kolk, R. Kenneth Carty

Hardcover | July 13, 2011

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Three unprecedented large-scale democratic experiments have recently taken place. Citizen assemblies on electoral reform were conducted in British Columbia, the Netherlands, and Ontario. Groups of randomly selected ordinary citizens were asked to independently design the next electoral system.In each case, the participants spent almost an entire year learning about electoral systems, consulting the public, deliberating, debating, and ultimately deciding what specific institution should be adopted. When Citizens Decide uses these unique cases to examine claims about citizens' capacity for democratic deliberation and active engagement in policy-making. It offers empirical insight into numerous debates and provides answers to a series of key questions: 1) Are ordinary citizens able to decideabout a complex issue? Are their decisions reasonable? 2) Who takes part in such proceedings? Are they dominated by people dissatisfied by the status quo? 3) Do some citizens play a more prominent role than others? Are decisions driven by the most vocal or most informed members? 4) Did theparticipants decide by themselves? Were they influenced by staff, political parties, interest groups, or the public hearings? 5) Does participation in a deliberative process foster citizenship? Did participants become more trusting, tolerant, open-minded, civic-minded, interested in politics, andactive in politics? 6) How do the other political actors react? Can the electorate accept policy proposals made by a group of ordinary citizens?The analyses rely upon various types of evidence about both the inner workings of the assemblies and the reactions toward them outside: multi-wave panel surveys of assembly members, content analysis of newspaper coverage, and public opinion survey data. The lessons drawn from this research arerelevant to those interested in political participation, public opinion, deliberation, public policy, and democracy.Comparative Politics is a series for students, teachers, and researchers of political science that deals with contemporary government and politics. Global in scope, books in the series are characterised by a stress on comparative analysis and strong methodological rigour. The series is published inassociation with the European Consortium for Political Research. For more information visit: www.essex.ac.uk/ecpr. The Comparative Politics Series is edited by Professor David M. Farrell, School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin, Kenneth Carty, Professor of PoliticalScience, University of British Columbia, and Professor Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Institute of Political Science, Philipps University, Marburg.
Patrick Fournier is principal investigator for the next two Canadian Election Studies, and was co-investigator of the CES for the 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Universite de Montreal. His research interests include political behaviour, political psychology, citi...
Title:When Citizens Decide: Lessons from Citizen Assemblies on Electoral ReformFormat:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.78 inPublished:July 13, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199567840

ISBN - 13:9780199567843

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Table of Contents

List of TablesList of FiguresList of AbbreviationsAcknowledgements1. Power to the People?2. Why Citizen Assemblies and How Did They Work?3. Who Were the participants?4. How Did the Decisions Come About?5. Did the Citizen Assemblies Make the Right Decisions?6. Did the Participants Decide by Themselves?7. Did Participants Become Better Citizens?8. Why Were the Assemblies' Reform Proposals Rejected?9. Should we let Citizens Decide?Appendix 1: Description of Electoral SystemsAppendix 2: Question Labels, Wordings, and Codings for Chapter 5Appendix 3: Question Labels, Wordings, and Codings for Chapter 7Appendix 4: Question Labels, Wordings, and Codings for Chapter 8References