Real Democracy Now! a podcast

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Professor Graham Smith from Westminster University was part of a number of academics who designed and ran the Democracy Matters project in 2015. This project involved two Citizens’ Assemblies both considering devolution of local decision-making.

In addition to being demonstration projects around engaging everyday citizens in decision-making about local governance these two process involved slightly different designs to allow the academics involved to test the impact of having elected representatives as part of the Citizens’ Assembly.

Graham explains the background to these two Citizens’ Assemblies as well as the preliminary findings about the impact of having politicians as members of the Citizens’ Assembly South.

For more information about the Democracy Matters project visit http://citizensassembly.co.uk/home-page/about/

The newDemocracy Foundation is a is an independent, non-partisan research organisation here is Australia that aims to identify improvements to our democratic process with a focus on promoting deliberative mini-publics as a key democratic reform.

Iain Walker is the Executive Director of the newDemocracy Foundation and has designed and managed over twenty deliberative mini-publics for local and State Governments in Australia.

Iain explains the approach newDemocracy Foundation takes to the design of deliberative mini-publics generally and also sets out the example of the Melbourne People’s Panel a 43 person deliberative mini-public, involving both residents and businesses, which advised the City of Melbourne Council on their 10-year budget.

The newDemocracy Foundation makes all of their deliberative mini-public designs public on their website and recently designed and managed one of the largest citizens’ juries in Australia, the South Australian Nuclear Citizens’ Jury.

Peter MacLeod is the CEO and Founder of MASS LBP, a Canadian consultancy focused on democratic innovation and public strategy.

Since 2007, MASS has led some of the country’s most original and ambitious efforts to engage citizens in tackling tough policy choices while pioneering the use of Civic Lotteries and Reference Panels on behalf of forward-thinking governments.

MASS LBP has conducted twenty-five major reference panels, citizens assemblies and commissions for government involving more than 1000 Canadians and reaching 250,000 households. Cumulatively, this represents some 30,000 hours of deliberation on significant public issues, making MASS an internationally-recognized and unparalleled leader in the design and delivery of deliberative processes for government.

Peter lays out how MASS approach the design of the reference panels they conduct including how they explain the purpose of these processes, how the invitations are designed and the size of the groups.

He also takes us through a couple of processes they have conducted from the Residents’ Panel to Review the Condominium Act a multi-year process to update this piece of legislation to a hyper-local issue with Grandview-Woodland Community Plan Citizens’ Assembly.

And in case you were wondering LBP stands for Lead By People.

Professor Janette Hartz-Karp is a Professor in the Sustainability Policy Unit at Curtin University in Western Australia. As well as undertaking research in the area of democratic innovations Janette has lead numerous large innovative deliberative processes as community engagement consultant to the then Western Australian Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Allanah McTernan, and more recently with the City of Geraldton.

Janette explains how she approaches the design of deliberative mini-publics focusing on three key elements: influence, deliberation, and representativeness.

Then she describes a number of processes she has designed and delivered including

  • Dialogue in the City, a large process involving 1,100 people both randomly selected citizens and stakeholders, looking at future planning for Perth
  • a Citizens’ Jury involving residents from two communities agreeing on the location of freeway exit after eight years of argument and disagreement
  • an Enquiry by Design process to develop a Statutory Plan for Geraldton involving 300 people working with a multi-disciplinary design team responding to the participants’ input
  • two participatory budgeting processes using citizens’ juries to make recommendations on 100% of 10 year Capital Works budget and 100% of the Operational budget of Geraldton Council.

Deliberative mini-publics are a popular form of democratic innovation around the world. In today’s episode I talk to a range of people to get their perspectives on what is behind this popularity.

Professor Graham Smith is a Professor of Politics in the Centre for the Study of Democracy, in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster in London.

Professor Janette Hartz-Karp, from the Sustainability Policy Unit at Curtin University in Western Australia. Janette is renowned nationally and internationally for her innovative work in community engagement and deliberative democracy.

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, the founder of the newDemocracy Foundation in Australia. The newDemocracy Foundation is an independent, non-partisan research organisation aiming to identify improvements to our democratic process with a focus on promoting deliberative mini-publics as a key democratic reform.

Peter McLeod, the Principal and Founder of MASS LBP a consultancy focused on democratic innovation and public strategy. Since 2007, MASS has led some of the country’s most original and ambitious efforts to engage citizens in tackling tough policy choices while pioneering the use of Civic Lotteries and Reference Panels on behalf of forward-thinking governments.

Emily Jenke is the co-founder of Democracy Co a consultancy that works with governments, business, not-for profits and local communities to help them make better decisions together that improve the quality of people’s lives.

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Jay Weatherill is South Australia’s 45th Premier and has held that position since 2014.

Under his leadership South Australia has become a leading light in democratic reform in Australia and around the world. In particular, South Australia has been at the forefront in the use of deliberative mini-publics, or citizens’ juries as they are often called here in Australia.

In South Australia the Government has conducted a number of citizens’ juries to address a range of issues including

  • how to ensure their capital, Adelaide, has a safe and vibrant nightlife
  • how cars and bicycles can share the road safely
  • how to manage unwanted litters of dogs and cats
  • how to fund major infrastructure and most recently
  • how the State should respond to a Royal Commission’s findings about the nuclear fuel cycle.

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Helene Landemore is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Her research interests include democratic theory and theories of justice.

Her book Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many, was based on her PhD research in which she demonstrated that decisions taken by the many are more likely to be right than decisions taken by the few.

Helene is currently working on another book about post-representative democracy, a hopefully not too distant future, where democratic innovations are implemented and truly change the nature of the relationship between citizens and their representatives.

 
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Professor Carson is a world renowned expert on deliberative mini-publics, having researched, designed and run them as well as training others in how to engage with citizens through dialogue, deliberation and engagement. 

Carson is passionate about improving how democracy works. Carson would like to see Australia leading the way in democratic reform, perhaps by setting up a Citizens’ Senate, providing a real exemplar for others to adopt.

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Real Democracy Now! a podcast is for people who think we can and should do democracy better.

In this podcast I talk with experts, practitioners, change agents and everyday people about how democracy works and how we might do it better.

Real Democracy Now! a podcast looks at democracy from different angles to help you think more deeply about democracy and identify the ways you think it could be improved.

The first season of Real Democracy Now! a podcast, will look at deliberative mini-publics, often called citizens’  juries, which are a very popular democratic innovation around the world.

If you want to know what deliberative mini-publics are listen to Episode 1 where I talk to Professor Carson, a world renowned expert on these type of innovations.

Check out this episode!

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