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Deliberative Democracy and the Deliberative Poll on the Euro


Focus on the concept of deliberative democracy has increased rapidly within recent decades. However, the concept is weakly defined, if at all. ‘Deliberation’ is defined as an unconstrained exchange of arguments that involves practical reasoning and potentially leads to a transformation of preferences. Throughout the 1990s several innovative democratic experiments have flourished focusing on citizens’ involvement and deliberation. The Deliberative Poll in focus here is, according to many parameters, the most ambitious one. The article presents the results from the Danish National Deliberative Poll on the single currency. In August 2000, 364 representative Danish citizens assembled to deliberate on Denmark’s participation in the single currency. The Deliberative Poll is described as a quasi-experiment set out to explore the empirical potentials of deliberative democracy. The focus is whether the claimed potential of deliberative democracy is present in the experimental setting. The participants’ answers reflect a deliberative process dominated by considerable changes in opinion, an increase in knowledge and an improved ability to form a reasoned opinion. Mutual understanding among the participants prevailed. At the same time, self-interest and domination were also part of the deliberative process. Thus, this article encourages the development of deliberative democratic theory in order to incorporate these features of politics.

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