Is there anything to be said for thinking about citizens’ assemblies?

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, recently promised to introduce a new Scottish independence referendum before the next Holyrood elections in 2021. That timeline is thought ambitious by many in Scotland, and for some her more significant announcement was that there would be a citizens’ assembly to debate “what kind of country are we seeking…

What happens after a Citizens’ Assembly?

Internationally Ireland is seen as a beacon in the development of deliberative democracy. There has been plenty of positive hype (not least in international media coverage) about the outcomes of the 2018 abortion and 2015 marriage equality referendums that followed recommendations by the Irish Citizens’ Assembly (or CA, that operated between 2016-18) and Irish Constitutional…

Analysis of the abortion (8th amendment) referendum, May 2018

The long-anticipated referendum on repealing the 8th amendment, known by proponents and opponents alike at the time of its initial adoption as the ‘pro-life amendment’, has delivered a result widely and understandably described as ‘seismic’, ‘historic’ and ‘momentous’. In a high turnout (64%, second among standalone referendums only to the 1972 vote on EC entry…

Republic of Ireland – moves towards more direct democracy?

    Donal O’Brolchain reviews pre/post- election developments on direct democracy The February 2016 election continues a pattern of nearly 50 years ie. voters have not re-elected an outgoing government.  Since 1969, this has happened once in 2002.  Despite Ireland’s undoubted successes (eg. joining the EU, a rising population and workforce) over these years, we…