By Mark E. Warren, Hilary Pearse
Is it attainable to enhance democracy through empowering usual voters to make key judgements concerning the layout of political associations and rules? In 2004, the govt. of British Columbia launched into a daring democratic scan: it created an meeting of a hundred and sixty near-randomly chosen voters to evaluate and redecorate the province's electoral process. The British Columbia voters' meeting represents the 1st time a citizen physique has had the ability to reform basic political associations. It used to be an leading edge gamble that has been replicated in other places in Canada and within the Netherlands, and is gaining expanding recognition in Europe as a democratic substitute for constitution-making and constitutional reform. within the united states, advocates view electorate' assemblies as a method for reforming referendum strategies. This publication investigates the voters' meeting in British Columbia to check and refine key propositions of democratic conception and perform.
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Extra resources for Designing Deliberative Democracy: The British Columbia Citizens' Assembly
Another member said that she had favored STV until the previous weekend, but had just switched because of a ‘‘a gut level intuition, what my body tells me’’ about the ‘‘competitive nature’’ of STV. Some people do not like competition and will be discouraged from participating in politics under this system.
And if voters trusted the CA, they tended to vote Yes for the STV proposal. It is likely, Cutler et al. argue, that the same proposal, had it been put forward by an elite body such as a legislative committee, would have garnered far less support. In short, whereas CA members focused their judgments on electoral systems and expected voters to do the same, most voters focused instead on the representative qualities of the Assembly. These findings suggest the limits of direct and participatory theories of democracy when extended to mass publics, and underscore the need to think in new ways about the democratic functions of citizen bodies.
Their priorities might well be mistaken even if the objective is maintaining popular control of the electoral system. In the US most voters evidently care more about term limits than any other reforms of the electoral system (Thompson 2002: 126–32). Yet term limits would most likely have the effect of shifting control to lobbyists and the other ‘‘permanent’’ members of the political community in the capital cities. Nevertheless, we should acknowledge that members’ choice about the priorities of reform was limited.