The Citizens’ Assembly Potential New directions for democratic reform
Outline <ul><li>The Fundamental Problem of Democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delegation - Election VS Random Selection </li>...
The Fundamental Problem of Democracy <ul><li>Citizens are too numerous, uninformed and unengaged to govern themselves. </l...
Problem: Elections Select an   Elite The Winners Are Often:  Lawyers, Well Off, Ambitious, Charismatic, White, Male, and G...
Accountability Anyone? <ul><li>Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>How can unengaged voters hold them accountable? </li></ul><ul><l...
Random Selection has  Different Strengths <ul><li>A larger number of representatives is required. </li></ul><ul><li>They a...
Informed Microcosms <ul><li>The Idea: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use random selection to get a representative group of people. ...
Deliberative Polls A glimpse at the ideal <ul><li>An Opinion Poll, a learning process, then another Poll. </li></ul><ul><u...
The interested viewer is encouraged to look at the design and results of some ‘Deliberative Polls’. <ul><li>A Description ...
What the Research Shows <ul><li>These deliberative processes engage participants in balanced learning (Not the norm). </li...
What the Research Shows 2 <ul><li>Most participants enjoy the experience of deliberation. </li></ul><ul><li>Participants s...
My Analysis of the Results <ul><li>After Deliberation there tends to be more: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasis on democratic...
<ul><li>~500 BC – Greece uses ‘Randomocracy’. </li></ul>Historical Context
<ul><li>1970s – Professor Robert Dahl publishes 'After The Revolution', suggesting that groups of randomly selected citize...
<ul><li>2004 – The BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform successfully designs a new electoral </li></ul><ul><li>system...
Using Citizens' Assemblies to Make Politics Work! <ul><li>Many ways of integrating citizens' assemblies into our system of...
Traditional Direct Democracy Systems have Many Problems: <ul><li>High signature threshold. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most init...
Proponents Organize Collect Many Signatures ($$$)‏ Huge Spin Campaigns for and against numerous Initiatives. A Typical Lar...
Citizens’ Assemblies  Can Fix All This!
Proponents Organize Citizens’ Assembly Citizens’ Assembly Led Debate Citizens' Assembly-Enhanced Direct Democracy Collect ...
Additional Notes on   Citizens’ Assembly-Enhanced  Direct Democracy. <ul><li>Retroactive effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MPs...
Other Uses of Citizens' Assemblies <ul><li>select the topics and questions for leadership debates (e.g. BBC)‏ </li></ul><u...
Conclusion <ul><li>The fundamental problem of democracies is that citizens are not sufficiently informed about and engaged...
Recommended Reading <ul><li>Deliberation Day by Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin (Skim the first half of the book)‏ </li><...
Case Studies
Aids in America <ul><li>Controversial </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Associated With  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sex </li></ul>...
Environmental Funding in the 70s <ul><li>Following the publication of ‘Silent Spring’ there was plenty of money to spend o...
Global Warming <ul><li>Global Warming happens on the timescale of centuries. </li></ul><ul><li>Politicians ask: We need to...
Conclusion <ul><li>Because they are accountable to the people on a short timescale, politicians cannot lead on important i...
FAQs
<ul><li>Might one charismatic individual sway the entire assembly to a certain point of view? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The re...
<ul><li>How do you ensure that a statistical microcosm is exposed to a diversity of views? </li></ul><ul><li>This is of cr...
<ul><li>Is it OK to pay Assembly members? </li></ul><ul><li>The Assembly is providing a valuable service, so it is certain...
<ul><li>Is it OK for Assembly members to provide voters with analyses and endorsements of parties? </li></ul><ul><li>When ...
<ul><li>Why not just use opinion polls? </li></ul><ul><li>  Opinion polls can be very valuable for issues that people unde...
The End
Proponents Organize Citizens’ Assembly Rejected Legislature Fine Tuning Passed into Law Citizens’ Assembly Led Debate Max ...
A Clear Connection <ul><li>CAs make the connection between democratic reforms involving them and better governance abundan...
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The Citizens Assembly Potential

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How Citizens Assemblies could be used to complement electoral democracy, solving some of it's greatest weaknesses.

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  • The Citizens Assembly Potential

    1. 1. The Citizens’ Assembly Potential New directions for democratic reform
    2. 2. Outline <ul><li>The Fundamental Problem of Democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delegation - Election VS Random Selection </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Deliberative Polls </li></ul><ul><li>The Historical Context of 'Randomocracy' </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens Assemblies Applied </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct Democracy </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. The Fundamental Problem of Democracy <ul><li>Citizens are too numerous, uninformed and unengaged to govern themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>The level of political knowledge and engagement can and should be raised (Deliberation Day). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delegation is still necessary! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How can we ensure our ‘delegates’ serve us? (The Principle Agent Problem)‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Elections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Random Selection </li></ul></ul>Large Scale
    4. 4. Problem: Elections Select an Elite The Winners Are Often: Lawyers, Well Off, Ambitious, Charismatic, White, Male, and Good at Networking. They also often have an agenda, and are indebted to various individuals and groups. Electoral System
    5. 5. Accountability Anyone? <ul><li>Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>How can unengaged voters hold them accountable? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it wise to give these people largely unchecked power? </li></ul>Elected Officials: Ambitious, Good at Networking, have an agenda…
    6. 6. Random Selection has Different Strengths <ul><li>A larger number of representatives is required. </li></ul><ul><li>They are not accountable to voters </li></ul><ul><li>They are truly representative of the population in all respects, including in their lack of knowledge and experience with politics. </li></ul>Stratified Random Sample
    7. 7. Informed Microcosms <ul><li>The Idea: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use random selection to get a representative group of people. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Combine this with a learning process, you get at what an informed electorate would want. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Citizens' Assembly = Informed Microcosm </li></ul>
    8. 8. Deliberative Polls A glimpse at the ideal <ul><li>An Opinion Poll, a learning process, then another Poll. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Balanced panel of experts and briefing material. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Find consistent changes in opinions. </li></ul><ul><li>Give us insight into how and why opinions shift. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Longer processes result in greater changes in opinion </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. The interested viewer is encouraged to look at the design and results of some ‘Deliberative Polls’. <ul><li>A Description of Deliberative Polls: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://cdd.stanford.edu/polls/docs/summary/ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Results of some Deliberative Polls: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://cdd.stanford.edu/polls/docs/summary/#results </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. What the Research Shows <ul><li>These deliberative processes engage participants in balanced learning (Not the norm). </li></ul><ul><li>It is the people who become more knowledgeable who change their opinions. </li></ul><ul><li>After deliberation, participant's choices correlate much better with their values. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is what we want in a democracy! </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. What the Research Shows 2 <ul><li>Most participants enjoy the experience of deliberation. </li></ul><ul><li>Participants show increased interest and participation in political and civic life afterwards (this is true of jury members as well). </li></ul>
    12. 12. My Analysis of the Results <ul><li>After Deliberation there tends to be more: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasis on democratic reform. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More support for action on issues such as the environment, poverty, and disease. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More support for the provision of public goods. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People care about what they are aware about. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>After Deliberation people understand what policies will achieve the results they desire </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>~500 BC – Greece uses ‘Randomocracy’. </li></ul>Historical Context
    14. 14. <ul><li>1970s – Professor Robert Dahl publishes 'After The Revolution', suggesting that groups of randomly selected citizens can be used to complement elected bodies to great benefit. </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, this idea gains many adherents in academia. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some argue for the institutionalization of these concepts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others go ahead and experiment with groups of randomly selected citizens (i.e. Deliberative Polls). </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>2004 – The BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform successfully designs a new electoral </li></ul><ul><li>system </li></ul><ul><li>for BC </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interest in this concept explodes around the world both in and out of academia. </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Using Citizens' Assemblies to Make Politics Work! <ul><li>Many ways of integrating citizens' assemblies into our system of government have been proposed. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Saving Democracy (a book)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethics Committee </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct Democracy System </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Etc… </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Traditional Direct Democracy Systems have Many Problems: <ul><li>High signature threshold. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most initiatives come from the rich. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Too many initiatives on each ballot! </li></ul><ul><li>Much Spin, little good debate prior to voting. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Proponents Organize Collect Many Signatures ($$$)‏ Huge Spin Campaigns for and against numerous Initiatives. A Typical Large-Scale Direct Democracy System Due to a high signature threshold, the process is accessible only to rich groups and individuals , who can pay for signature collection. Initiatives can be used to create new laws, and to prevent the legislature from passing laws. Many initiatives are poorly crafted by those with limited expertise in writing legislation. Referendum Confused by spin and overwhelmed by too many initiatives at once, Voters often make poor voting choices .
    19. 19. Citizens’ Assemblies Can Fix All This!
    20. 20. Proponents Organize Citizens’ Assembly Citizens’ Assembly Led Debate Citizens' Assembly-Enhanced Direct Democracy Collect 10 000 Signatures Rejected Max of 4 are chosen A low, easily attainable threshold Initiatives are selected and rejected based on merit ! Only a small manageable number are put to referendum each time. Referendum The Citizens' Assembly fine-tunes initiatives (With help/input from experts and politicians). Initiatives can be used to pass new laws and to prevent the legislature from passing laws Unlike politicians, Citizens’ Assemblies are highly trusted by voters , making them ideal for leading a low-spin debate.
    21. 21. Additional Notes on Citizens’ Assembly-Enhanced Direct Democracy. <ul><li>Retroactive effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MPs would behave much better. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other benefits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The electorate will become more informed due to frequent informed debates prior to referenda. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are a couple of initiatives in the US to implement such a system or elements of it. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Other Uses of Citizens' Assemblies <ul><li>select the topics and questions for leadership debates (e.g. BBC)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>provide voters with trustworthy evaluations of all the major parties. (e.g. Women's league of voters)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>make bodies (e.g. The CBC) truly independent. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethics committee? </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Conclusion <ul><li>The fundamental problem of democracies is that citizens are not sufficiently informed about and engaged in politics. </li></ul><ul><li>Randomly selected groups of people that go through a learning process (i.e. citizens’ assemblies) are an alternative form of representation with different strengths and weaknesses than elected bodies. </li></ul><ul><li>By strategically integrating citizens' assemblies into our system of government (i.e. in a direct democracy system), we can largely circumvent this fundamental problem. </li></ul>
    24. 24. Recommended Reading <ul><li>Deliberation Day by Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin (Skim the first half of the book)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>The Citizens Initiative Review proposal for Washington State: http://www.cirwa.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dkjkdjc_120dk8cxnmn - My vision for a direct democracy system that uses a citizens' assembly. </li></ul><ul><li>www.cusdi.org – A US organization's vision for the same thing. </li></ul><ul><li>http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dkjkdjc_135csw258hc lots of other related links. </li></ul>
    25. 25. Case Studies
    26. 26. Aids in America <ul><li>Controversial </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Associated With </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sex </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Drugs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Homosexuality </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Therefore it was avoided/ignored by politicians until it became a big problem! </li></ul>
    27. 27. Environmental Funding in the 70s <ul><li>Following the publication of ‘Silent Spring’ there was plenty of money to spend on the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>A couple of years later there was ‘no money’ and most people the government had hired had to be laid off. Why? Opinion polls showed that this was no longer a priority. </li></ul>
    28. 28. Global Warming <ul><li>Global Warming happens on the timescale of centuries. </li></ul><ul><li>Politicians ask: We need to get re-elected in four years - what benefit is there for us? </li></ul>
    29. 29. Conclusion <ul><li>Because they are accountable to the people on a short timescale, politicians cannot lead on important issues, they cannot spend the preventative dollar, and they cannot tell people what they need to hear! They must simply reflect back what the people want to hear. </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens Assemblies are the opposite, and are therefore ideal for shoring of the weaknesses of elected democracy. </li></ul>
    30. 30. FAQs
    31. 31. <ul><li>Might one charismatic individual sway the entire assembly to a certain point of view? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The research has shown that if you put a group of individuals together with one strong proponent of a certain viewpoint, that individual will often sway the entire group towards his/her own (extreme) viewpoint. However, if you recruit strong proponents for all different viewpoints, discussion will actually engage the group in a balanced learning process. In contrast, through reading and listening, individuals learn primarily those facts and arguments that support their pre-existing viewpoints. </li></ul></ul>
    32. 32. <ul><li>How do you ensure that a statistical microcosm is exposed to a diversity of views? </li></ul><ul><li>This is of critical importance to ensure a balanced learning process, and can be achieved in many ways, including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify and invite representatives from the 'for' and 'against' sides for a particular issue. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In countries with proportional representation, by involving all major political parties you can ensure a diversity of views. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A microcosm can elect its own 'advisors' using a proportional voting system. </li></ul></ul>
    33. 33. <ul><li>Is it OK to pay Assembly members? </li></ul><ul><li>The Assembly is providing a valuable service, so it is certainly reasonable to pay its members. However, a better criterion is what will best serve democracy. </li></ul><ul><li>The research shows that payment is crucial to ensure high turnout, which is necessary to ensure the assembly is statistically representative. Payment helps insure high turnout because of the monetary incentive, but perhaps more importantly because it serves as a signal to participants that their views will truly be taken seriously. </li></ul><ul><li>Assuming that the Assembly's members are paid, it would be crucial to guarantee its funding and set up an independent body to run it (so that threatening to withhold funds can't be used as a way to influence the Assembly's results). </li></ul>
    34. 34. <ul><li>Is it OK for Assembly members to provide voters with analyses and endorsements of parties? </li></ul><ul><li>When a subcommittee examines an issue in depth, it usually returns with its recommendations and some analyses to back them up. These may then be debated in the wider committee. </li></ul><ul><li>This is essentially the model proposed, where the Assembly would serve the role of a subcommittee for the entire electorate. To accurately reflect the diversity of views within the Assembly and to facilitate debate, voters would be able to see how many Assembly members supported each party, and their reasons why, including evaluations of the parties on various important issues, such as the economy, healthcare, and the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Voters do need to get information from somewhere. What is debatable is whether this would be a valuable/acceptable source. The research shows that voters tend to have a relatively low level of trust in politicians and the media, but a high level of trust in groups of lay citizens such as a citizens assembly. This suggests that voters would definitely find the views of the Assembly members valuable. </li></ul>
    35. 35. <ul><li>Why not just use opinion polls? </li></ul><ul><li> Opinion polls can be very valuable for issues that people understand well (such as the UPass at UBC), however, when people are less familiar with an issue, their views often fail to correlate strongly with their values until they go through a learning process as in a Citizens' Assembly. </li></ul>
    36. 36. The End
    37. 37. Proponents Organize Citizens’ Assembly Rejected Legislature Fine Tuning Passed into Law Citizens’ Assembly Led Debate Max of 4 are chosen Referendum Unlike politicians, Citizens’ Assemblies are highly trusted by voters, making them ideal for leading a low-spin debate. Initiatives are selected and rejected based on merit ! Citizens Assembly Enhanced Direct Democracy Collect 10 000 Signatures Initiatives can be used to pass new laws and to prevent the legislature from passing laws A low, easily attainable threshold
    38. 38. A Clear Connection <ul><li>CAs make the connection between democratic reforms involving them and better governance abundantly clear. </li></ul><ul><li>This is a significant advantage over other reforms </li></ul>

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