Fit to govern? Comparing citizen and policymaker perceptions of deliberative democratic innovations

Democratic innovations, such as the introduction of deliberative mini-publics, have attracted increasing attention. The assumption is that involving citizens more directly in policymaking offers a way to address the widespread decline in public trust in the democratic process and traditional forms of engagement, such as voting in elections. While a thriving literature discusses the merits of mini-publics from a citizen perspective, scholars have neglected the views of policymakers. To fill the gap, we draw on two recent surveys conducted in Finland to examine citizens’ and policymakers’ attitudes to mini-publics. The data show that citizens report high levels of trust in the capacity of a deliberative citizen body to produce meaningful policies. However, policymakers are more sceptical about their value. This finding is important because it may well have implications for the willingness of policymakers to create mini-publics and take their recommendations into account.

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