Deliberative Democracy

This deliberative wave (OECD, 2022) as observed in recent decades is directly linked to a special type of democracy that dates back to the ancient Greek state of Athens.

Widely known as “deliberative democracy”, this way of practising democracy entails active and direct citizen participation in shaping public policies and decisions going thus beyond simple consultation or regular democratic duties and roles that the majority of citizens are called to fulfil (e.g. voting in elections, paying taxes, etc.).

The learning objective of this sub-unit is to present students with the four competing political theories when it comes to democracy, namely deliberative democracy, political equality, participatory democracy and non-tyranny.

In particular, deliberative democracy is manifested in various forms and contexts depending on the degree of impact that citizen engagement in public policies is to be achieved. OECD in its publication “Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave” (2022) outlines four models of deliberative processes, namely informed citizen recommendations on policy questions, citizen opinion on policy questions, informed citizen evaluation of ballot measures and permanent representative deliberative bodies.

Another focus area when it comes to democratic theory is the concept of “political equality”. The term refers to the fact of citizens having an equal voice over governmental decisions (Verba, S. 2001). Closely associated with the principles of “equality” and “the rule of law” that you saw before, political equality is often examined as a fundamental parameter that determines the quality of contemporary democracies.

Another term that is frequently used in relation to deliberative democracy is “participatory democracy” which also highlights the importance of citizen engagement and active involvement in decision-making processes. A democracy in which citizens are more often called to participate in discussions that will shape its future is more stable, and more socially coherent while wider legitimacy is given to its political system.

Finally, to the extreme opposite of deliberative democracy, we find non-tyranny or more precisely non-tyrannical autocracies. These are usually regimes that are not elected by the people or they give an illusion of participation by orchestrating false elections and manipulating voting results.