Is deliberative democracy feasible? Political disengagement and trust in liberal democratic states.
2015-06-26T13:34:18Z (GMT) by
Liberal democratic states throughout the world are experiencing declining rates of political participation and trust among their citizens. Many political theorists have argued that deliberative democracy offers hope. Deliberative democracy, they argue, is a distinctive conception of democracy which improves upon traditional aggregative or majoritarian approaches by providing a more inclusive space in which citizens can collectively deliberate on political decisions. I argue, however, that the deliberative model presupposes and requires widespread participation and trust which it is incapable of ensuring. The more normative weight that is placed upon the need for inclusive deliberation among citizens, the less politically feasible deliberative democracy becomes as a strategy for the reform of liberal democratic states experiencing declines in trust and participation. I therefore argue that deliberative democrats are faced with a choice: they can afford central weight to the idea of deliberation and thus render their theories unfeasible as a strategy for democratic reform, or they can downplay the importance of deliberation in their theories and thus minimise the distinctiveness of deliberative democracy.