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Jürg Steiner

The premise of this chapter is that many citizens have the urge to participate more intensively in governance than through elections of representatives. This can be done, if citizens deliberate political issues in randomly chosen groups. Deliberation means in its core that citizens justify their arguments and listen with respect to arguments of others. Political leaders should be required by law to consider the results of citizen’s deliberations. Thereby, the input of citizens should be of a consultative nature, while the political authority remains with the political institutions. In this way, the concept of democracy gets much more meaning than when the role of citizens is limited to elect their representatives.

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Maria Clara Jaramillo and Jürg Steiner

The deliberative theory of democracy has been developed by philosophers like Jürgen Habermas. There was much philosophical discussion about the preconditions and consequences of this model of democracy. In order to get an empirical handle at these philosophical speculations, one needed to develop an instrument to measure the level of deliberation in group discussions. This we have done with the Discourse Quality Index (DQI), which measures the various deliberative elements such as unconstrained speaking time for all participants, good justifications of arguments, respect for the arguments of others, reference to the common good, and openness to the force of the better argument. With the DQI one can measure the level of deliberation of the individual participants and at the aggregate level for entire discussion groups. To get at the internal dynamic of group discussions with the ups and downs of the level of deliberation we developed the concept of Deliberative Transformative Moments (DTM).