What is it about?
Involving people in policy-making is generally a good thing. Policy-makers themselves often pay at least 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. With this article, we want to inject a dose of healthy scepticism into the debate or, more precisely, to show that there are circumstances in which public consultations will achieve anything but greater legitimacy and better policy-outcomes. We do this partly by discussing the more questionable assumptions in the participatory governance literature, and partly by examining a recent, glaring example of the misuse, and abuse, of popular input: Viktor Orban’s national consultations in Hungary. We also propose five requirements to help deciding when consultations might be appropriate: posing questions that allow for citizens’ autonomous choice; strong procedural guarantees to ensure a balanced debate and verifiable outcomes; the result to at least have the potential to settle actual policy; cost-effectiveness; and political communication that is truthful about the aims and consequences of the vote.
Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash
Why is it important?
We want to point out that consultative and participatory instruments have an important role when the conditions are right – but only then.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: The Use and Abuse of Participatory Governance by Populist Governments, Policy & Politics, April 2019, Policy Press, DOI: 10.1332/030557319x15487805848586.
You can read the full text:
The following have contributed to this page