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When Citizens DecideLessons from Citizen Assemblies on Electoral Reform$
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Patrick Fournier, Henk van der Kolk, R. Kenneth Carty, André Blais, and Jonathan Rose

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567843

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567843.001.0001

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Who were the Participants?

Who were the Participants?

(p.51) 3 Who were the Participants?
When Citizens Decide

Patrick Fournier

Henk van der Kolk

R. Kenneth Carty

André Blais

Jonathan Rose

Oxford University Press

Random selection in the organization of citizen assemblies was adopted to create an assembly that was as representative as possible of the population. At the same time, only those who expressed an interest could take part. Self-selection may have led to distortions of the ‘mirror image’ of the electorate that the assemblies were intended to be. This chapter explores where the idea of representativeness comes from, and why it was important. It also shows the extent to which assemblies represented the general public. In the chapter, it is argued that representation by lot is by no means a new form of political representation and that it derives its representative character from sources different from elections. Largely as a consequence of self-selection, however, assemblies were not entirely ‘representative’. Nevertheless, it is shown that there is no persuasive evidence that the outcomes of the citizen assemblies would have been any different had these departures from perfect representativeness not existed.

Keywords:   random selection, self-selection, representativeness

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