Reinvigorating Democracy in the European Union: Lessons from Ireland’s Citizens Assembly?
18 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 26, 2020
This paper summarizes two sets of democratic challenges facing Europe which have in common the erosion of trust in conventional political institutions and processes. The first is the original ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU and the second is the more recent spread of populist illiberalism across various European states. These democratic challenges are then considered alongside another contemporary phenomenon, namely the growth of interest around the world in alternative forms of citizen participation - whether deliberative, popular, digital or any other. The paper concludes by examining in more detail a recent experiment with deliberative citizen participation in one EU Member State, namely Ireland’s use of citizens’ assemblies to introduce constitutional and public policy change, and asks whether Ireland’s experience could offer any lessons of relevance for addressing the EU’s democratic ills.
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