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Nivek Thompson

There has been limited research into the role of elected representatives in democratic innovations. What we do know suggests there can be significant tension between elected representatives’ view of their role in representative democracy and the role of citizens via democratic innovations. Where elected representatives do engage with democratic innovations their motivations maybe normative or instrumental or a mix of both. Elected representatives can also take on a number of different roles around democratic innovations including initiating, participating, responding, resisting and institutionalizing. Considering the role of elected representatives in democratic innovation raises larger normative questions around the role of citizens in representative democracy and whether democratic innovations could eventually challenge the institutions of representative democracy themselves.

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Lucy Parry, Jane Alver and Nivek Thompson

Diversity in political regimes and cultures across the region of Australasia demand a nuanced understanding of democratic innovation. In this chapter, we highlight prominent democratic innovations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Small Island Developing States. Whilst Australia has seen a proliferation of mini-publics commissioned by state and local governments, New Zealand has taken action at the national level in terms of representative innovation. In the Pacific region, it is civil society organisations that take the lead enhancing democracy, in the absence of well-functioning democratic institutions. This varied experience demonstrates that democratic innovation can and does occur at all levels of, and outside of, government institutions. We argue that this also presents a valuable opportunity for democratic learning across this region, with each example discussed here offering an important contribution to the practice of democratic innovation.