Squaring the Circle? Bringing Deliberation and Participation Together in Processes of Constitution-Making

This chapter looks at recent participatory exercises in constitutional reform and aims to help further define and tailor standards for deliberative democratic good practice in constitution-making. Among the models of popular participation which the authors discuss are constitutional referendums such as Scotland’s independence referendum; citizens’ assemblies such as those set up in British Columbia, the Netherlands and Ontario; and constitutional conventions such as in Iceland and Ireland. The chapter aims to disentangle the principles required by, respectively, participatory and deliberative processes in constitution-making. While there is significant overlap between them (such as conditions of inclusiveness and transparency), important differences exist. The chapter discusses the turn towards deliberative mechanisms in constitutional change and recent seminal examples. It then draws out some of the problems in connecting small group deliberation to polity-wide participation. The authors conclude with some thoughts about how these two strands in popular constitutional engagement might be better connected.