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Deliberation and Democracy: Innovative Processes and Institutions

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Edited By Stephen Coleman, Anna Przybylska and Yves Sintomer

As our experience regarding the practice of deliberation grows, the position from which we evaluate it, and the criteria of this evaluation, change. This book presents a synthesis of recent research that has brought detailed and robust results. Its first section concerns contemporary challenges and new approaches to the public sphere. The second focuses on the Deliberative Poll as a specific deliberative technique and compares findings emanating from this practice in various political and cultural contexts. The third section addresses the challenge of determining what constitutes deliberative quality. Finally, the last section discusses democratic deliberation and deliberative democracy as they relate to the complex challenges of contemporary politics.
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Claus Offe - Chapter Fifteen. Crisis and Innovation of Liberal Democracy: Can Deliberation Be Institutionalized?

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Claus Offe

Chapter Fifteen. Crisis and Innovation of Liberal Democracy: Can Deliberation Be Institutionalized?1

Introduction: Diagnostics of Democratic Failure and the Need for Democratic Innovation

Liberal democracies, and certainly not only the new ones among them, are not functioning well. While there is no realistic and normatively respectable alternative to liberal democracy in sight, the widely observed decline of democratic politics, as well as state policies under democracy, provides reasons for concern. This concern is a challenge for sociologically informed political theorists to come up with designs for remedial innovations of liberal democracy. In this essay, I am going to review some institutional designs for democratic innovation. I shall proceed as follows. The first section will provide a very condensed summary of critical accounts concerning democracy’s actual failures and symptoms of malfunctioning. In a second section, I distinguish two families of institutional innovations that are currently being proposed as remedies for some of the observed deficiencies of democracy, with an emphasis on “deliberative” methods of political preference formation.

Liberal democracy consists of four basic elements: stateness (is a regime form that – so far – is tied to states), rule of law (democratic states are states with a – mostly written – constitution which provides for – at least – two ways in which the exercise of state power is limited), political competition (democracies institutionalize the non-violent conduct of political conflict between contending groups – parties – aspiring to government office), and accountability (presence of mechanisms...

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