Skip to main content
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 5
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Christensen, Henrik Serup and von Schoultz, Åsa 2018. Ideology and Deliberation: An Analysis of Public Support for Deliberative Practices in Finland. International Journal of Public Opinion Research,

    Curato, Nicole and Böker, Marit 2016. Linking mini-publics to the deliberative system: a research agenda. Policy Sciences, Vol. 49, Issue. 2, p. 173.

    Leydet, Dominique 2016. Which conception of political equality do deliberative mini-publics promote?. European Journal of Political Theory, p. 147488511666560.

    Böker, Marit and Elstub, Stephen 2015. THE POSSIBILITY OF CRITICAL MINI-PUBLICS: REALPOLITIK AND NORMATIVE CYCLES IN DEMOCRATIC THEORY. Representation, Vol. 51, Issue. 1, p. 125.

    Hayward, J 2014. Rethinking electoral reform in New Zealand: the benefits of citizens' assemblies. Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, Vol. 9, Issue. 1, p. 11.

  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2009

5 - Descriptive representation in the British Columbia Citizens' Assembly


The last decade has seen a marked interest in deliberative citizen assemblies. Ideally, such bodies allow ordinary citizens to engage in rational deliberation over pressing political issues. However, they often lack significant influence on policymaking or electoral politics, a criticism leveled at James Fishkin's National Issues Convention (Fishkin 1995; Gastil 2000: 131, 135). The British Columbia Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform (CA) is an important institutional innovation precisely because it exercised considerable political influence. Its participants judged which electoral system would best suit the Province of British Columbia, whose citizens could then accept or reject the recommended system in a provincial referendum.

In doing so, the CA engaged in two forms of political influence. First, they set the agenda for a binding, province-wide referendum, by voting to select a modified version of the single transferable vote (STV; see page 130) over the German-style mixed member proportional representation system (MMP; see page 130). In choosing STV, the Assembly did not make a binding decision for the province. But because their choice was to be ratified through a Yes or No vote, they set a very narrow agenda for the BC electorate, and agenda-setting is a pretty significant form of political power (Dahl 1989: 112–14; Riker 1982). But beyond agenda-setting, participants in the CA also exercised political influence in recommending the STV to the broader BC populace. On a micro-level, individual participants tried to persuade their fellow citizens that the STV was the best system for the province.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Designing Deliberative Democracy
  • Online ISBN: 9780511491177
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *