Deliberative Democracy

Deliberative Democracy

Deliberative Democracy is used to describe techniques that engage citizens in the process of making recommendations to the larger community.

Citizen’s Assemblies is one form. A cross-section of citizens are invited to participate on a several month learning journey about a specific topic deemed important to the community. Some recent examples include decisions about energy decisions or how to deal with climate change.

Once the Assembly is selected, they will listen to a spectrum of experts on the topic and then engage in a deliberation process to help them come to a consensus recommendation.

The Assembly will produce a recommendation written in clear language all citizens can understand.

This is in sharp contrast to the way most ballot measures are done now. It is hard to decipher the language between the groups arguing for and against a proposal and sometimes they seem to be describing completely different realities. This makes it hard for voters to make a wise decision.

When this process is done well, it produces a variety of important benefits:

  • It gets more citizens involved in governance
  • It creates social cohesion across political spectrums
  • It produces clear and understandable language
  • It stimulates the belief that individual voices matter
  • And promotes trust and faith in governance


  • Aspen Ideas to Go Podcast episode – Hélène Landemore on Politics without Politicians
  • Reasons to be Cheerful podcast episode – Interviews with David Van Reybrouk, James Fishkin and Sarah Allan
  • OECD report on Deliberative Democracy