Thriving in An Unfriendly Territory. The peculiar rise of minipublics in consociational Belgium

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David Hennessy Talukder, in collaboration with Julien Vrydagh, Sophie Devillers, Vincent Jacquet & Jehan Bottin

New chapter out in the book "Belgian Exceptionalism. Belgian Politics between Realism and Surrealism" .


Representative democracies are under huge pressures due to the growing disillusion toward their institutions and their main actors. Belgium is not an exception to this general trend in industrialized countries. To face this challenge, several scholars and political actors propose to bring citizens back into political systems. They intend to foster opportunities for unorganized citizens to take part in deliberation about public goods and to influence decision-making beyond electoral periods (Dryzek et al., 2019). One of the most popular deliberative and participatory innovations is the deliberative minipublic, a generic appellation for citizens’ juries, consensus conferences, or citizens’ assemblies (Smith, 2009). These forums bring together a group of citizens that deliberate on a political issue, listen to stakeholders’ and experts’ testimonies, and subsequently formulate a set of policy recommendations. Minipublic participants are recruited through a process of random selection to establish a sample of citizens with diversified backgrounds (Carson & Martin, 1999).