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Holding power to account
Author: Matt Qvortrup

Voters can be sophisticated. In 2018, a majority of the voters in Florida voted for a conservative governor, but they also voted to give prisoners the right to vote, something the Republican Governor had opposed. The voters showed that they were able to distinguish measures from men. Politics is not just about tribal partisanship. Voters demand more choice. And they are able to exercise their judgement. Florida is not unique. This is a global trend. A large majority of voters all over the world – according to opinion polls – want more referendums. But are they capable of making decisions on complex issues? And aren’t such votes an invitation to ill-considered populism? This book answers these questions and shows what the effect of referendums have on public policy, on welfare and well-being, and outlines how some of the criticisms of referendums and initiatives can be remedied.

Matt Qvortrup

question will be framed more narrowly, can referendums be compatible with the ideals of deliberative democracy? And, more particularly, if mechanisms can be put in place to facilitate this ideal 2 . In this section, the practice of referendums will be contrasted with other mechanisms such as mini-publics or citizensjuries (also known as citizens’ assemblies) to see if these can

in Democracy on demand
From Athens to e-democracy
Author: Matt Qvortrup

We live in an age of democracy. Very few people challenge the virtues of ‘government by the people’, yet, politicians and commentators are fond of decrying the ‘crisis of democracy’. How do these views square up? This book provides the answer by surveying the philosophical history of democracy and its critics and by analysing empirical data about citizen participation in Britain and other developed democracies. In addition to analysis of major political thinkers such as Plato, Machiavelli and J.S. Mill, it analyses how modern technology has influenced democracy. Among the issues discussed in the book are why people vote and what determines their decisions. When do citizens get involved in riots and demonstrations? Are spin doctors and designer politics a threat to democracy? Do the mass-media influence our political behaviour?

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e-democracy, citizens’ juries and designer politics
Matt Qvortrup

M801 QVORTRUP TEXT MAKE-UP.qxd 5/4/07 1:42 PM Page 67 Gary Gary's G4:Users:Gary:Public:Gary 5 Top–down politics: e-democracy, citizensjuries and designer politics What can governments do if the citizens are unwilling to get engaged in politics through the usual channels? In recent years the answer has been provided by two mechanisms: citizen juries and e-democracy. In addition to those mechanisms, governments, in pursuit of votes, arguably, rather than the voters’ opinions, have developed methods and techniques for polling and measuring voter preferences

in The politics of participation
Matt Qvortrup

. In chapter 3 I survey basic tendencies for which there is empirical data, including young people’s alleged political apathy. Chapter 4 considers various issues in protest politics, in particular terrorism, and in chapter 5 I look at how citizens might be engaged through means other than voting in elections (e.g. through e-democracy, citizensjuries and, above all, designer politics). Discussion then turns, in chapter 6, to electoral politics and the various theories of why people vote and why they vote as they do; consideration is also given to class voting and

in The politics of participation
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Alex Mold

Independent Complaints Advisory Service (ICAS). In addition, other forms of soliciting patient opinion, such as citizensjuries and listening exercises were also utilised. Such a proliferation in the number of bodies claiming to speak for the patient-consumer demonstrated the growing importance of the patient voice within the NHS. Yet, at the same time, importance in policy terms did not necessarily equate to more power for patient-consumers. The presence of these numerous organisations led to concerns about fragmentation of patient representation, especially as many of

in Making the patient-consumer
An empirical assessment
Matt Qvortrup

. Excursus. Citizensjuries Another mechanism which has occasionally been proposed is the citizensjury. The idea of a citizensjury is a simple one really. Instead of relying on tried and tested, adversarial, party politics, the government will select ‘ordinary people’ who – like members of a jury in a court case – will deliberate and make recommendations after they have taken evidence from experts. The idea was inspired by the movement towards so-­ called deliberative democracy, an idea that took off in the early 1980s, when Joseph Bessette coined the term.74

in Direct democracy

The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.

Geography and the British electoral system

Representational democracy is at the heart of the UK’s political constitution, and the electoral system is central to achieving it. But is the first-past-the-post system used to elect the UK parliament truly representative? To answer that question requires an understanding of several factors: debates over the nature of representation; the evolution of the current electoral system; how first-past-the-post distorts electoral politics; and how else elections might be conducted. Running through all these debates are issues over the representation not only of people but also of places. The book examines all of these issues and focuses on the effect of geography on the operation of the electoral system.

Open Access (free)
Environmental justice and citizen science in a post-truth age
Editors: Thom Davies and Alice Mah

This book examines the relationship between environmental justice and citizen science, focusing on enduring issues and new challenges in a post-truth age. Debates over science, facts, and values have always been pivotal within environmental justice struggles. For decades, environmental justice activists have campaigned against the misuses of science, while at the same time engaging in community-led citizen science. However, post-truth politics has threatened science itself. This book makes the case for the importance of science, knowledge, and data that are produced by and for ordinary people living with environmental risks and hazards. The international, interdisciplinary contributions range from grassroots environmental justice struggles in American hog country and contaminated indigenous communities, to local environmental controversies in Spain and China, to questions about “knowledge justice,” citizenship, participation, and data in citizen science surrounding toxicity. The book features inspiring studies of community-based participatory environmental health and justice research; different ways of sensing, witnessing, and interpreting environmental injustice; political strategies for seeking environmental justice; and ways of expanding the concepts and forms of engagement of citizen science around the world. While the book will be of critical interest to specialists in social and environmental sciences, it will also be accessible to graduate and postgraduate audiences. More broadly, the book will appeal to members of the public interested in social justice issues, as well as community members who are thinking about participating in citizen science and activism. Toxic Truths includes distinguished contributing authors in the field of environmental justice, alongside cutting-edge research from emerging scholars and community activists.