Deliberative Mini-Publics, Procedural Fairness, and the Acceptance of Negative Political Decisions

Photo by Zainul Yasni on Unsplash

Abstract

This project aims to study the potential of one of the most prominent proposals for democratic innovation - deliberative mini-publics - to increase the acceptance of negative political decisions, a key prerequisite for democratic stability. Mini-publics are increasingly catching the interest of activists and government officials, in part because they have been argued to increase perceptions of fair decision-making and, thereby, citizens’ willingness to accept negative political decisions. However, whether and under what conditions mini-publics actually have these effects when they are added to existing democratic decision-making processes remains unclear. This project will provide some of the first systematic evidence on the polity-wide effects of mini-publics on the acceptance of negative decisions based on two survey experiments. To maximize ecological validity, both experiments will be conducted in Ireland, one of the few countries having recent experience with high-profile mini-publics. The findings of this project will provide novel insights about the promises and potential pitfalls of integrating mini-publics with established democratic procedures.