Reform Options for Greater Citizen Collaboration



newDemocracy - Structural Models


Australian-based democracy reform group newDemocracy outlines several options to reform democratic institutions to give citizens more say and more scope to work together to develop policy solutions. Each of the reform proposals are summarised and include the pros and cons of adopting them.

The proposals include:

  • Electronic Town Hall – this would involve selecting a fiftieth of the voting population and inviting them to participate in an online forum to discuss and debate policy issues as well as cast their vote online. This would effectively act as a ‘people’s house’ of parliament.
  • Consensus Conferences – this would involve convening a panel of citizens and experts to discuss and decide on policy issues that have a large deal of technical detail and/or are controversial policy areas that require measured discussion and deliberation. Citizens would question experts at length about the detail of the policy area and write a concluding report focussing on points of agreement.
  • A Citizen’s Senate – this would involve replace the existing Senate, or legislative house of review, with a chamber elected from citizens selected at random. All citizens would be eligible for selection and the make-up of the senate would be selected on basis of age, gender and other characteristics that aligned with the general population. The Citizen’s Senate would vote on and/or conduct public reviews of all legislation passed by the lower house of elected representatives.


Thumbnail image: thinkpublic/Flickr