Jonathan Rose, Queen’s University.
Occasional paper no. 2. State Services Authority of Victoria, Australia and New Zealand School of Government, February 2009.
There is a common refrain among policy advocates, politicians and academics that the key to halting the ever-quickening decline of democratic participation is re-engaging citizens in democratic life. Governments typically respond by adding some engagement strategy to existing processes. It’s the ‘add citizens and stir’ approach.
The problem is that these exercises are often seen as adjuncts to the ‘real’ policy-making that goes on in our parliaments. What has been argued here is that citizen-engagement exercises need to be bestowed with real power; governments need to believe in the capability of citizens’ assemblies to craft well-reasoned policy and allocate resources for learning and for consulting with fellow citizens.