Designing a permanent deliberative citizens assembly: The Ostbelgien Modell in Belgium

Abstract

Worldwide, there is an increasing number of calls for institutionalizing deliberative democracy. The Parliament of the German-speaking Community of Belgium has paved the way in this direction by unanimously adopting a model for permanent citizen deliberation. It consists in a permanent Citizens’ Council drawn by lot, which can initiate Citizens’ Assemblies, also drawn by lot, whose mission it is to deliberate and formulate recommendations on the subject that the Citizens’ Council had submitted to them. At the end of the deliberations, the recommendations are discussed in a joint committee between the members of the Assembly and elected representatives. Unless there is a motivated opinion against it from the parliamentary committee and the minister in charge, the recommendations are supposed to be followed by parliamentary or governmental measures. In this paper, we aim at explaining how the initiative was born, how the model was designed and how it is implemented. In our analysis of the political process, we provide twelve factors to explain why such an advanced model of citizen deliberation came into existence. More generally, we argue that it could be a source of inspiration for democracies worldwide that seek to institutionalize deliberative citizen participation and render deliberation more systematic and maybe, in the long run, more systemic

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oai:dial.uclouvain.be:boreal:229726Last time updated on 5/24/2020

This paper was published in DIAL UCLouvain.

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