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Impacts of democratic innovations in Europe

Findings and desiderata

Brigitte Geissel

Representative democracies are without doubt under pressure, as all chapters in this volume have already pointed out. These pressures - some authors even speak of diseases, demystification and deconsolidation - are the breeding ground for new democratic procedures. International and supranational organizations, along with numerous politicians and scholars, are convinced that ‘the cure for democracies’ ills is more democracy’ (Dalton et al. 2006: 251). And in fact, most representative democracies invested significantly in democratic innovations. They introduced a variety of new forms in order to involve citizens in decision-making processes (OECD 2005: 10). Following this development, it is striking that up until now, systematic evaluations of democratic innovations are just beginning and a comparative perspective, in particular, is still lacking. This chapter is a starting point for a long-term research project aiming to fill these gaps and in it I will begin to develop a conceptual framework for the evaluation. I will illustrate this by examining examples of European experiences.

After a short description of the term democratic innovation and the innovations under research, the framework for the evaluation will be developed. It will then be applied exemplarily - as an initial step for future evaluation. Despite its preliminary nature, the analysis offers convincing and clear-cut results summarized in my conclusion.

 
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