An increasingly topical and global phenomenon, citizens' assemblies are formed by a randomly selected representative sample of a country’s population, mandated to draw policies on important political and legal issues. In times of severe social polarisation and distrust in political institutions, these formats are increasingly considered by public authorities as tools to restore political legitimacy, generate public consent and sometimes divert from and defuse other forms of political mobilisation.
Be they alternatives to traditional policymaking or complements to our ageing representative institutions, these forms of participative policymaking contain a promising collaborative potential and are likely to be institutionalised. That is why it is important to critically examine their mechanisms, effects, benefits and limits.
In the framework of Assemblies: Modern Rituals project, we have attributed the Evens Research Fellowship to political scientist Dimitri Courant (University of Lausanne and University Paris 8). Courant carries out a qualitative study of two contemporary cases of citizens' assemblies in France: the National Great Debate and the Citizens’ Convention for the Climate in a comparative perspective with the Irish Citizens’ Assembly. Unprecedented in terms of scale, these nationwide experiments will bring important elements to the global research on deliberative democracy.