Schools Beyond Regions and Borders
Democracy and Constitutions
Citizens Participating in Constitutional Decisions: Participatory Democracy and Citizens' Assemblies
Prof. Jens Woelk


The lecture will focus on deliberative democracy as a relatively new instrument for the democratic participation of citizens. Participatory democracy has its origins in administrative law with the consultation of the concerned before a decision is taken or a provision adopted. In its various forms it has been widely used in other contexts, such as through referendums. This is usually with the aim of including stakeholders’ voices and improving the quality of the decision. Deliberative democracy, on the other hand, is not just about asking citizens to participate in taking the decision, but to make an informed and shared decision.


In this sense, deliberative democracy is a complementary participatory tool integrating representative democracy (preparing decisions and providing greater legitimacy through inclusion) and direct democracy (providing differentiated views and arguments before a “yes” or “no”-decision in a referendum). It appears particularly suited in our modern and complex world.


In the lecture, we will illustrate and discuss the concept of participatory and deliberative democracy before looking into some experiences where it has been used for preparing decisions at constitutional level, such as Austria, Italy, Iceland, Ireland, Trentino-South Tyrol, the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina.