Deliberative polling: A cure to the democratic deficit of the EU?

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Series Details No.13, December 2010
Publication Date 2010
ISSN 1890- 7741
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In this paper, Espen D. H. Olsen and Hans-Jörg Trenz confront some commonly held assumptions and objections with regard to the feasibility of deliberation in a transnational and pluri-lingual setting. To illustrate our argument, we rely on a solid set of both quantitative and qualitative data from EuroPolis, a transnational deliberative experiment that took place one week ahead of the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. The European deliberative poll is an ideal case for testing the viability of deliberative democracy across political cultures because it introduces variation in terms of constituency and group plurality under the controlled conditions of a scientific experiment.

On the basis of our measurement of both participants’ self-perceptions and changes of opinions through questionnaires and of group dynamics and interactions through qualitative coding of transcribed group deliberations we can draw the following generalised conclusions: 1) The EU polity is generally recognised and taken as a reference point by citizens for exercising communicative power and impact on decision-making, 2) the EuroPolis experiment proves that citizens are in fact able to interact and debate across languages and cultures, thereby turning a heterogeneous group of randomly chosen participants into a constituency of democracy.

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