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Supporting Deliberative Systems with Referendums and Initiatives


el-Wakil, Alice (2020). Supporting Deliberative Systems with Referendums and Initiatives. Journal of Deliberative Democracy, 16(1):37-45.

Abstract

Referendums and initiatives have long been described as deliberatively deficient and unfit to implement deliberative democracy. Categorized as aggregative mechanisms, they would undermine quality deliberation by setting predefined policy options to potentially polarizing mass votes, with no room for face-to-face exchange nor opportunities for citizens to develop informed judgments. Recent developments in deliberative democratic theory increasingly challenge this view. This article builds on this literature to argue that referendums and initiatives can serve deliberative systems by incentivising representatives to engage in recursive representation – namely, conversation-like exchange at the mass level with the represented deemed essential to deliberative systems. They do so by modifying the formal opportunity structure of representative actors, which impacts them in popular vote campaigns – but also over the long term. Acknowledging these long-term effects of systems including referendums and initiatives opens new questions that can guide further research on these processes’ value for deliberative democracy.

Abstract

Referendums and initiatives have long been described as deliberatively deficient and unfit to implement deliberative democracy. Categorized as aggregative mechanisms, they would undermine quality deliberation by setting predefined policy options to potentially polarizing mass votes, with no room for face-to-face exchange nor opportunities for citizens to develop informed judgments. Recent developments in deliberative democratic theory increasingly challenge this view. This article builds on this literature to argue that referendums and initiatives can serve deliberative systems by incentivising representatives to engage in recursive representation – namely, conversation-like exchange at the mass level with the represented deemed essential to deliberative systems. They do so by modifying the formal opportunity structure of representative actors, which impacts them in popular vote campaigns – but also over the long term. Acknowledging these long-term effects of systems including referendums and initiatives opens new questions that can guide further research on these processes’ value for deliberative democracy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:deliberative democracy, democratic systems, direct democracy, institutional design, popular vote processes
Language:English
Date:26 August 2020
Deposited On:01 Sep 2020 14:26
Last Modified:27 Nov 2020 07:34
Publisher:University of Westminster
ISSN:2634-0488
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.16997/jdd.403

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