Deliberative democracy is a growing branch of democratic theory. It suggests understanding and assessing democracy in terms of the quality of communication among citizens, politicians, as well as between citizens and politicians. In this interview, drawing on his extensive research on deliberative practice within and beyond parliaments, André Bächtiger reflects on the development of the field over the last two decades, the relationship between normative theory and empirical research, and the prospects for practicing deliberation in populist times.
Taking Stock and Looking Ahead - Selen A. Ercan with André Bächtiger
Selen A. Ercan and André Bächtiger
Amidst a global turn towards authoritarianism and populism, there are few contemporary examples of state-led democratization. This article discusses how Uruguay’s Frente Amplio (FA) party has drawn on a unique national democratic cultural heritage to encourage a coupling of participatory and representative institutions in “a politics of closeness.” The FA has reinvigorated Batllismo, a discourse associated with social justice, civic republicanism, and the rise of Uruguayan social democracy in the early twentieth century. At the same time, the FA’s emphasis on egalitarian participation is inspired by the thought of Uruguay’s independence hero José Artigas. I argue that the cross-weave of party and movement, and of democratic citizenship and national heritage, encourages the emergence of new figures of the citizen and new permutations for connecting citizens with representative institutions. The FA’s “politics of closeness” is an example of how state-driven democratization remains possible in an age described by some as “post-democratic.”
Jean-Paul Gagnon and Selen A. Ercan
Democratic Theory’s eleventh issue (6, July 2019) features four new research articles as well as an interview, a critical commentary, a practitioner’s note and a book review. It begins with Stephanie Erev’s article, which explains neoliberalism’s assaults on democracy and nature. Working through Hayek, Erev suggests that opposing neoliberal extractivist culture from both the democratic and ecological standpoints “may offer the greatest promise for creative and collaborative struggles toward new worlds and new ways of life” today.
Jonas Hultin Rosenberg
The question of who ought to be included in the demos is distinct from, and yet related to, the question of how to distribute decisionmaking power among those who are included. Political equality is the most common answer to the former question within democratic theory. In democratic practice, it is usually realized through one person one vote. Within democratic theory, there is not as much agreement as to what the answer to the latter question should be. The answer that has attracted most attention within the scholarly literature is that all those who are affected should be included. However, prominent scholars have argued that this all-affected principle is incompatible with political equality and therefore an unattractive answer to the question of inclusion. This article challenges this critique and argues that it is based on a misconception of political equality and a narrow reading of the all-affected principle.
Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia
Matthew David Ordoñez
Garry Rodan, Participation Without Democracy: Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2018), 281pp., ISBN: 9781501720109.
Changing the Relationship between Philanthropy and Democracy?
Joshua Murchie and Jean-Paul Gagnon
This Practitioner’s Note considers the disruptive function of Little Phil, a mobile app that seeks to democratize philanthropic giving. Although many of the cultural aspects of philanthropy – such as increased control over donation, tracking the impact of one’s giving, and building interpersonal relationships with receivers – can be opened to any person with an app-hosting device and internet access, it cannot supplant the role of big philanthropy and solve Rob Reich’s problem: how to domesticate private wealth so that it serves democratic purposes? Little Phil’s disruption has in concept gotten us halfway to legitimizing philanthropy. Perhaps the uptake of citizens’ panels by large philanthropic foundations will cover the remaining distance.
A Letter to Jan Zielonka
Jan Zielonka’s Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a furious, worried pamphlet on the challenges that European democracies are currently facing, on the apparent rise of illiberalism. This article critically reviews the book and seeks to offer a somewhat different and perhaps more optimistic picture of the current predicaments of European politics. The main point of reference in this respect is Finland, a country whose political institutions have managed, by and large, to uphold a sense of coherence in society. A commitment to participatory, equality-based, and freedom-generating institutions can indeed be seen as a primary means to counter the decline of liberalism.
From Consociationalism to Deliberation?
This article uses the theory of recognition to analyze sectarian conflicts in Iraq. After describing the sectarian and historical background of contemporary Iraqi politics, the article critiques the implementation of consociationalism and policies influenced by liberal multiculturalism in deeply divided societies. It argues that these policies lead to a dangerous reification of identities. The article argues that a progressive implementation of deliberative democracy practices could improve identity-related issues in Iraq and explains how democratic practices are legitimized by the most influential Islamic religious figure in Iraq.
The Role of the Proto-Political Sphere in Political Participation
Pia Rowe and David Marsh
While Wood and Flinders’ work to broaden the scope of what counts as “politics” in political science is a needed adjustment to conventional theory, it skirts an important relationship between society, the protopolitical sphere, and arena politics. We contend, in particular, that the language of everyday people articulates tensions in society, that such tensions are particularly observable online, and that this language can constitute the beginning of political action. Language can be protopolitical and should, therefore, be included in the authors’ revised theory of what counts as political participation.
Kevin Olson, Imagined Sovereignties: The Power of the People and Other Myths of the Modern Age (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 230 pp., ISBN: 9781107113237