What is a Citizens' Assembly

From Wikipedia - See Citizens' Assembly

A citizens' assembly is a group of people selected by lottery from the general population to deliberate on important public questions so as to exert an influence. Other names and variations include citizens' jury, citizens' panel, people's panel, mini-publics, people's jury, policy jury, consensus conference and citizens' convention.

A citizens' assembly uses elements of a jury to create public policy.Its members form a representative cross-section of the public, and are provided with time, resources and a broad range of viewpoints to learn deeply about an issue. Through skilled facilitation, the assembly members weigh trade-offs and work to find common ground on a shared set of recommendations. Citizens' assemblies can be more representative and deliberative than public engagement, polls, legislatures or ballot initiatives. They seek quality of participation over quantity.

With Athenian democracy as the most famous government to use sortition, theorists and politicians have used citizens' assemblies and other forms of deliberative democracy in a variety of modern contexts.The OECD documented almost 300 examples (1986–2019) and finds their use increasing since 2010.

Membership

Achieving a sufficiently inclusive and representative group of everyday people helps ensure that the assembly reflects political equality and the diversity of a community. Some of the components are described below. Selection

Assembly members are most often selected through a two-stage process called sortition. In a first instance, a large number of invitations are sent from the convening authority at random (often around 10,000-30,000). The principle is that everybody should have an equal chance of being selected in the first place. Amongst everybody who responds positively to this invitation, there is a second lottery process, this time ensuring that the final group broadly reflects the community in regards to certain criteria such as gender, age, geographic, and socio-economic status, amongst others. This is called stratification – a technique that is also used in opinion polls.

Random selection in governance (known as sortition) has historical significance and the earliest known instances include the Athenian democracy and various European communities.

 

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