What is democracy?
Democracy is a system that allows people to choose how their country is governed and how decisions are made. In Northern Ireland, we live in a representative democracy. This means that citizen’s (over the age of 18) can register to vote in elections to choose a candidate or political party who they want to represent their interests in government. However, in other countries, there are other types of democracies and systems of government.
What is deliberative democracy?
Deliberative democracy is a form of democracy that places people at the centre of decision making and provides them with a more direct route to participate in decisions that affect them, their communities and broader society. Deliberative democracy is based on the principles that everyone has an equal contribution to make; openness to differing ideas and views; knowledge exchange and sharing of unbaised information; and most importantly, collective deliberation and dialogue forms the basis for decision making – not voting alone. The emphasis of deliberative democracy initiatives is to ensure the decision-making process is participatory and of a high quality, and the outcome is not driven by self-interest. Deliberative democracy is distinct from a representative democracy as it does not rely on elected representatives to act as a proxy in the decision-making process; citizens can represent their own views and influence the decisions made.
There are many different methods that use deliberative democracy to involve citizens in the decision making process. Our friends at Involve and the Community Foundation Northern Ireland have created a useful toolkit that explains each of these methods – follow the links to read more about civic innovation and democracy tools:
Involve – What is….? Civic Innovation Toolkit
Our work on deliberative democracy
Over the past 2 years, we have been working with community partners and statutory bodies to develop community-based projects that promote deliberative democracy and offer a practical way (outside of voting in elections) for more people to have a say on the decisions made about their community. The broad aims of our deliberative democracy initiative are:
- Promote the value and importance of civic participation.
- Raise awareness of deliberative democracy and how it can be used as an effective way to address issues within communities.
- Facilitate an inclusive and sustainable way for people to have a greater say and influence on decision making in their communities.
- Increase local people’s sense that their voices are meaningful and can be heard by decision-makers.
To find out more about our deliberative democracy projects, contact our Project Team at [email protected]