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Deliberative democracy is theoretically plausible and institutionally impracticable

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  1. Introduction: Jurgen Habermas's imagined 'Ideal Speech Situation' (ISS)
  2. The question of the common good
  3. Reaching a consensus in theory
  4. Institutional issue: The fragmentation of the state
  5. Negative consequence of practicable deliberative democracy: The change in the relation between the people and the institutions
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

What we mean today when referring to 'democracy' is, according to some scholars, 'a way of organising the state that has come to be narrowly identified with territorially based competitive elections of political leadership for legislative and executive offices' . The problem with this system is that it has distanced itself from the central ideas of democratic politics. These central ideas comprise the ideas of encouraging active political involvement of citizens, reaching consensus through dialogue and being able to implement the decision that has been reached through consensus . In recent years, a new theory of democracy has tried to go back to democratic traditions. This new strand, deliberative democracy is much contested at the theoretical level as well as at the practicable level. To understand if deliberative democracy is, as some scholars claim, 'theoretically plausible but institutionally impracticable' one first has to understand what the concept of deliberative democracy is.

[...] Finally, the last institutional negative consequence of practicable deliberative democracy is the change in the relation between the people and the institutions. Deliberative democracy inherently encourages dialogue, discussion and debate, not violent or unilateral action. Therefore, deliberative democracy would put a ban on the most natural way challenging power: radicalism and militancy . There have been other problems with those experiments or proofs that deliberative democracy is not institutionally practicable the way it is established in theory, especially when it comes to citizen participation (which turned out to be very low, not more than 10 percent of the adult population There are obviously problems when trying to put into practice deliberative democracy theory. [...]


[...] As Joshua Cohen explains in his essay ( 'Deliberation and democratic Legitimacy'), the objective of deliberative democracy is to advance the aims of each party. Each party has his/her own good and they try to come to a decision that is acceptable to all . In that sense, deliberative democracy aims at advancing the common good. The real ideal of deliberative democracy is more radical than Cohen's view since it considers that democratic citizens have the duty, when voting, to 'express their impartial judgement of what conduces to the common good of all citizens, and not their personal preferences' . [...]


[...] In Porto Alegre, implementing deliberative democracy ended up in creating a whole new network of councils, assemblies and procedures such as the procedure according to which the mayor can veto the budget proposed by the assemblies . The process of implementing deliberative democracy does not just imply reform. Indeed, the Porto Alegre Project and the project in Chicago aim at modifying the mechanisms of state power into permanent deliberative-democratic ones . As these consequences may not, at first sight, seem negative on the apparatus of the state, one needs to consider the effect of the implementation of deliberative democracy on the government as a whole. [...]

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