Participatory & Deliberative Democracy in Ireland

Last week, I went to the Annual Meeting of the Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI), in Cork. While I was there, I attended the business meeting for the PSAI’s Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group. The group has created a new website, which offers forums for discussions, a news page, and list of relevant publications. Everyone interested in participatory and deliberative democracy (which I would think most sortition advocates would be), especially in an Irish context, should consider checking it out. (Getting active on the page does require joining the PSAI, I believe.)

The specialist group page is at

3 Responses

  1. We’re soon to launch a new periodical — the Journal of Deliberative and Participatory Democracy (formed out the corresponding UK PSA group). However, according to Daniela’s thesis, these are the aspects of democratic practice that sortitinistas should not be interested in! And I’m inclined to agree with her.


  2. Listening to the definition of Deliberative Democracy that Prof. Dryzek gives at the beginning of the video in the page linked to it seems to me that Deliberative Democracy is not much more than an admonition that we all open our hearts and minds and listen to each other. Who can oppose that?

    So I presume there is a connection to sortition through the (reasonable) expectation that an allotted chamber would be more conducive to such open-minded deliberation. However, this misses the main objective of using sortition: having a representative government. The main problem with the electoral system is not that we don’t have enough respectful discussion, but rather that the government it produces is not representative of the people and as a result no amount of deliberation would change policy because “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.

    To be a bit explicit, it seems that this last truism may also explain why Deliberative Democracy is so popular among academic reformers.


  3. Dryzek is opposed to representation of persons, which he refers to pejoratively as “counting heads . . . a sellout to liberal constitutionalism”. In fact he draws a contrast between deliberation and his own preferred form of “discursive democracy”, which is described as a “contestation of discourses”. As the selection process for discourses requiring representation is left in the hands of social science Q-methodology, it’s not clear to me how his proposal qualifies as a form of democracy. I gave a paper on statistical representation at a PSA meeting in Belfast and Dryzek was in the audience — talking to him afterwards he made it clear he has little interest in the representative potential of sortition.


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