The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation No. CM /Rec(2023)6 “On Deliberative Democracy” on September 6, 2023.
The Recommendation, the first international standard on deliberative democracy, aims to contribute to the implementation of the Reykjavik Principles of Democracy, in which member states commit to actively ensure and promote “Democratic Participation" at the national, regional and local levels through free and fair elections. In this context, it is emphasized that member states should promote, to an appropriate extent, forms of participatory democracy, including deliberative democracy.
On this subject, the Council of Europe's Directorate General for Democracy and Human Dignity mentioned the following in its declaration:
“Citizen participation is the essence of a true democracy. In recent years, dwindling trust in democratic institutions has drawn attention to new ways of citizen participation. Deliberative democracy does not seek to replace traditional democracy, but rather aims to improve and inform existing democratic practices through the active participation of citizens in decision-making processes across a range of policy areas. Some Member States have already tested and successfully implemented innovative deliberative practices such as citizens' assemblies, citizens' juries, and citizens' meetings at the local and national levels. For those Member States that choose to implement or promote such citizen participation, Recommendation CM /Rec(2023) 6 sets out the principles by which any negotiation process should be conducted. These principles address issues such as the existence of a legal framework, clarity of authority and design, fair representation, and accountability. By adhering to these principles, member states can preserve the integrity and effectiveness of such initiatives and ensure that deliberative processes complement representative democracy.”
What is Deliberative Democracy?
The Council of Europe defines deliberative democracy as a form of participatory democracy in which direct civil deliberation is central to the process. It emphasizes that deliberative democracy methods do not reject or weaken democratic norms, but have the potential to build and strengthen representative democracy. Deliberative methods, a form of participation, include various methods that have emerged to ensure citizen participation in decision-making processes and to allow citizens to develop concrete proposals about what decision makers should do. Methods include citizens' assemblies, which are becoming increasingly common, especially in European countries, general participatory assemblies, participatory budgets, and referendums. You can view the report on this topic published by the European Council in January 2023 here.
*The recommendation was translated by STGM as part of the "Freedom of Association Monitoring Project", which we carried out together with TÜSEV and with financial support from the European Union.