International Experts Meet To Discuss The Future of Modern Democracy

Dr Gemma Carney, Irish Centre of Social Gerontology, NUI Galway
Mar 14 2012 Posted: 10:34 GMT

Is modern democracy still democratic? That is the question being explored this week at a symposium being held at the National University of Ireland in Dublin. The symposium, entitled ‘Beyond the Ballot’: forms of citizen engagement between democratic elections is the initiative of the participatory and deliberative democracy specialist group of the Political Studies Association of Ireland, led by Dr Clodagh Harris from Department of Government, UCC and Dr Gemma Carney from the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway.  

The symposium will explore how the collapse of social partnership and the signing of EU-IMF deals has pushed relationships between the government and ordinary voters in Ireland into a state of crisis.  

Dr Gemma Carney of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology: “This does not sit with international rhetoric that 'People Matter.' The idea that people matter; that ordinary citizens should have a direct influence over how decisions are made in a democratic system is supposedly a cornestone of UN, EU and national government policies. But does that hold true in practice?” 

The rise of e-democracy, forms of public protest, new political movements arising in response to a feeling of powerlessness would seem to suggest that people are becoming ever further removed from and disillusioned by their governments.

Papers presented by leading international and national experts on deliberative and participatory democracy will address these issues and discuss new institutional and civil society mechanisms to enhance citizen engagement such as the G1000 Belgian citizens’ summit, The ‘We The Citizens’ Citizens Assembly and the Claiming our Future movement.

The symposium takes place on Thursday, 15 March in the NUI offices on Merrion Square in Dublin 2, and the keynote speech, by Professor Jurg Steiner of the University of North Carolina on the praxis of deliberation, will be delivered at 10.15am, with other panels and presentations to follow.


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