MPs face a dilemma when it comes to deliberative mini-publics (DMPs): in a context of distrust, they may see it as an opportunity to re-legitimize themselves and solve complex policy issues. But it could also challenge the quasi-monopoly they used to have on political decisions and undermine the role of the Parliament and the primacy of elections. The article is found on 91 face-to-face interviews with French-speaking Belgian MPs sitting in federal or regional parliaments. First, we describe the profile of supporters of DMPs. We then identify three ideal–typical discourses: the power-sharing discourse, the consultative discourse, and the elitist discourse. The contribution of this article is twofold. First, it analyzes the argumentative frames used by MPs to assess deliberative mini-publics using a large number of interviews. Second, it demonstrates that their discourses depend on their evaluation of ordinary citizens’ competence to participate and on their resulting vision of representation. Political actors mainly perceive DMPs as power-sharing instruments that would alter their elected position and the legitimacy of the election.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Some of the elements regarding the justification of the case and the empirical results are currently under consideration in the journal “Politique et sociétés”. However, the focus of the two articles are different: the one submitted in Acta Politica specifically focuses on DMPs and on MPs’ discourses, whereas the article under consideration in Politique & Sociétés is broader, focusing on participatory democracy more generally and on the profile of the supporters of different forms of participation.
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The order of the authors was draw by lot. Their implication in the research and writing process was equivalent.
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Rangoni, S., Bedock, C. & Talukder, D. More competent thus more legitimate? MPs’ discourses on deliberative mini-publics. Acta Polit (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41269-021-00209-4
- Representative democracy
- Political competence
- Deliberative democracy