The growing prominence of deliberative mini-publics and their impact on democratic government

David M. Farrell*, Luke Field

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the opening lines of Ruling the Void Peter Mair states that ‘[t]he age of party democracy has passed’. In his eyes political parties are failing and with them democracy itself. This paper addresses Mair’s concerns about the state of democracy. We review the latest evidence on how democracies have been innovating over the past twenty years or more, with particular attention to reforms that seek to bring citizens into the heart of discussions about constitutional and institutional reforms and significant policy issues. We show how deliberative mini-publics are becoming a more common feature of democratic government today, and, in some instances, how they are being embedded into the democratic system. We assess the implications for the state of state of democratic government today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-302
Number of pages18
JournalIrish Political Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Ken Carty, Nicole Bolleyer and our reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Political Studies Association of Ireland.

Other keywords

  • citizens’ assemblies
  • deliberative mini-publics
  • democratic decline
  • democratic innovation


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