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Deliberative democratization: a framework for systemic analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ian O'FlynnORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


In the transition literature, ‘free and fair elections’ is often treated as the most important indicator of democratic quality. In this article, however, we argue that ‘free deliberation among equals’ is in many respects a more telling measure. On the face of it, this argument might strike one as implausible. After all, the decisive moment in many transitions is the signing of a pact between elements in the government and opposition who are more concerned to protect their own interests than to explain themselves to others. Yet while pacts may not be particularly deliberative, they still occasion a great deal of deliberation across society as a whole. We argue that the different sites where deliberation occurs can be understood as forming a deliberative system. To give substance to this idea, we then outline a systemic framework that may be used to describe and evaluate the deliberative capacity of transitional regimes. Finally, we turn to the cases of Venezuela and Poland to illustrate the empirical application of this approach. Both transitions were founded on a pact. Yet differences in the nature of those pacts and the broader deliberative systems in which they were located tell us a lot about where those countries are today.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Flynn I, Curato N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Policy Studies

Year: 2015

Volume: 36

Issue: 3

Pages: 298-313

Online publication date: 02/09/2015

Acceptance date: 07/05/2015

Date deposited: 18/12/2014

ISSN (print): 0144-2872

ISSN (electronic): 1470-1006

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/01442872.2015.1065965


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