Participatory Democracy and the Representation of Minority Groups in Brazil
37 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 4 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
This paper takes Brazilian national public policy conferences as a case study that enables one to argue that the institutionalization of participatory mechanisms of deliberation within representative institutions may actually enhance the political inclusion of minority groups, by advancing their preferred policies, fostering their rights and consolidating their identity. Moreover, the paper aims to present empirical evidence on how participation and deliberation may be turned into representation, or more specifically how minority groups can improve their political representation in the Legislative branch regardless of the formal mechanisms of electoral democracy. The paper claims that institutional practices of social participation and deliberation may not only provide further accountability and legitimacy to electoral democracy and its traditional institutions, they may also indicate a shift on representative government. Once proved true, the Brazilian case may allow for a step forward in the direction of taking both participation and deliberation as enhanced features of political representation itself, and not as inconciliable or merely complementary designs of democracy.
Keywords: participation, representation, democracy, minority groups
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