Welcome to the June issue of our research newsletter.
From small beginnings, we are now being asked to contribute in many places around the world - so much that it is difficult to know where to start. We've had many recent speaking engagements, with Iain Walker speaking at the New Zealand Forum of Education with Minister Chris Hipkins and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Christchurch on May 5th and in Auckland on May 12th. Iain also spoke at the 'Democracy Is Being Disrupted: Governing in the 21st Century' Vivid event. I spoke at RenewFest over May 19th and 20th as well as at the Port Macquarie Philosophy Forum on May 24th. newDemocracy's Associate Research Director, David Schecter, has also been busy speaking in Arizona and Tokyo.
The international network, Democracy R&D, is gathering momentum with 19 organisations in 13 countries now linking together. The first learning exchange - discussing the evaluation process for innovative processes - has now taken place online, linking various countries.
However, my current excitement is centred in an unlikely place: Poland. Unlikely, only because of the shift to autocratic populism in central Europe at various national levels. At the local level, it is a different story entirely - Gdansk is a role model for others, and newDemocracy is pleased to note our own influence there.
I have a chapter with Janette Hartz-Karp and Michael Briand, titled "Deliberative Democracy as a Reform Movement" in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy (Carson, L, Hartz-Karp, J & Briand, M (forthcoming 2018) "Deliberative Democracy as a Reform Movement" in Bächtiger, A, Dryzek, J S, Mansbridge, J & Warren, ME (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy, Oxford University Press)
Making trusted planning decisions is a challenging task for any Government. We've taken on a project with the ACT Government to give a randomly select group of everyday citizens the authority to make recommendations on how they want to see their housing needs met, now and into the future.
Participants from the ACT Housing Choices Collaboration Hub met for the first time on May 5.
Ireland continues to blaze a trail in democracy innovation
Recently, Ireland has gone on to add to its addressing of same-sex marriage by successfully passing a referendum on abortion law reform and constitutional change. These two monumental social changes were preceded by Citizen Assembly trial that led to a permanent structure enabling citizen deliberation which is clearly letting very challenging political issues be more freely explored. Deliberation on both topics by the Assembly ultimately provided considered and trusted deliberation to the Parliament and the people of Ireland leading to both historic votes.
Last year, Research Director Lyn Carson wrote a Research and Development Note on the integration of citizen deliberation into the national conversation through the creation of the Citizen's Assembly. At the time (and still now), Ireland led the way internationally with its successful integration of random selection and citizen deliberation in national level decision making.
The Journal of Public Deliberation is the leading open-access public journal for deliberative democracy research and literature. newDemocracy continues to be a principal funding contributor for the Journal - supporting the best research and innovation in the field.
This time we're proud to share that JPD Volume 14, Issue 1 has just been published. It features theoretical and empirical articles that highlight deliberative innovations from around the globe. Articles in this issue take on topics such as the instrumental value of deliberation, the use of interactive theatre techniques in deliberation, the role of random selection, policy preferences and information sharing, deliberative counterpublics online, and participatory budgeting. The issue also includes two Reflections from the Field and three book reviews that will be of interest to scholars and practitioners.
Of particular interest for newDemocracy is the article by Simon Pek, Adam Cronckwright and Jeffery Kennedy that addresses the potential of random selection as a means of selecting student representatives. The article finds that random selection is indeed accepted as a legitimate means of selecting representatives, with stakeholders broadly preferring random selection and recommending its use in other schools—views which are informed by a critical assessment of random selection’s relative merits. You can read the article in full here.
Jurors at last year's Yarra Valley Water Citizens' Jury.
newDemocracy has continued to publish R&D Notes, exploring different aspects of deliberation and citizen juries.
We get asked about 'The Swiss Model' all the time. Recently, Jürg Steiner, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Bern and Lyn Carson, co-authored an R&D Note on 'The Swiss Model'. It canvasses the unique canton governance model that exists in Switzerland - which is more than just regular referenda.
This note is a must read for those interested in understanding different governance models and what deliberative democracy and democratic innovation can learn from the nuances of the Swiss experience.
Research Director, Lyn Carson has also co-published an in-depth R&D Note on democratic innovation in Poland with polish expert in deliberative democracy, Marcin Gerwin. Here is a short extract:
"Gdańsk, with its population of more than 460,000, has taken public deliberations to a new level of influence for its citizens. The local government has introduced a law, entitled Rules and Methods for Organising Public Consultations. This law enables citizens to initiate a citizens’ panel as described above. If 1,000 signatures are collected, the Mayor must consider a citizens’ panel. With 5,000 signatures the Mayor is obliged to convene a citizens’ panel. There is also an agreement that, afterwards, it will be shown how recommendations have been enacted. This is to be published in an annual report. This instigation of a panel is not confined to citizens alone, of course. Both the Mayor or the city council can also initiate one."
newDemocracy keeps across the latest in democratic theory and deliberative democracy literature. We've created a new Facebook group, The Demos, to provide a space for you to join in on this. It's a space for meeting up and sharing research and ideas, as well as a space for action. We're focused on spreading the ethos of newDemocracy and this group is a productive space for sharing ideas and success.
It will work best with lots of activity and contributions, so come join in on the discussion.