Strengthening democracy through bottom-up deliberation: An assessment of the internal legitimacy of the G1000 project
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- Caluwaerts, D. & Reuchamps, M. Acta Polit (2015) 50: 151. doi:10.1057/ap.2014.2
Recent scholarship claims that citizen deliberation can contribute to the quality of democracy and to the legitimacy of political decision making. By including everyone who is affected by a decision in the process leading to that decision, deliberation is capable of generating political decisions that receive broad public support, even when there is strong disagreement on the values a polity should promote. However, if deliberative democracy wants to contribute to the legitimacy of the political system, it has to be legitimate in itself. In other words, deliberative processes have to reflect the principles of legitimacy in their own functioning. It is therefore crucial to assess the internal legitimacy of deliberative mini-publics before making claims about their contribution to the legitimacy of the political system as a whole. In this article, we set out to refine the theory on deliberative legitimacy and to determine the legitimacy of one particularly interesting deliberative event, namely the Belgian G1000. We will argue that it is very difficult for deliberative processes to be high on all dimensions of legitimacy and that there is a trade-off between input and output legitimacy. Moreover, we find that design characteristics to a large extent determine the legitimacy of deliberative processes.