Policy and Politics: How not to conduct a consultation – and why asking the public is not always such a great idea

June 11, 2019

Agnes Batory, CPS researcher working on the TROPICO project, wrote a blog post for Discover Society related to her and Sara Svensson's article recently published in Policy and Politics: The use and abuse of participatory governance by populist governments.

"Involving people in policy-making is generally a good thing. Policy-makers themselves often pay lip-service to the importance of giving citizens a say. In the academic literature, participatory governance has been, with some exaggeration, almost universally hailed as a panacea to all ills in Western democracies. In particular, it is advocated as a way to remedy the alienation of voters from politicians who seem to be oblivious to the concerns of the common man and woman, with an ensuing decline in public trust in government.

Representation by political parties is ridden with problems, so the argument goes, and in any case it is overly focused on the act of voting in elections – a one-off event once every few years which limits citizens’ ability to control the policy agenda. On the other hand, various forms of public participation are expected to educate citizens, help develop a civic culture, and boost the legitimacy of decision-making. Consequently, practices to ensure that citizens can provide direct input into policy-making are to be welcomed on both pragmatic and normative grounds."

Continue reading on the Discover Society website.