Edited by Stephen Elstub and Oliver Escobar
Chapter 27: Democratic innovations in Europe
This chapter reviews the use and the impacts of democratic innovations within Europe. We find variations, first, from almost no application in some countries to the introduction of several innovations, and, second, from (linkages to) actual political decision-making to entire detachment from legislative bodies. The impacts are limited, with variations between innovations and countries. Binding direct democratic procedures show the most noticeable (policy) impacts, the impacts of other innovations are up to now, with few exceptions, rather small. Switzerland and Denmark are especially receptive. Usage, trends and impacts cannot be explained with a single factor (e.g. economic development), but well-working institutions of representative democracy and institutionalised commitment to citizens’ involvement seem to be crucial. Finally, lessons are derived that can be learnt from the European experience. This includes proposals for more effective linkages of democratic innovations with institutions of representative democracy and better combinations of different democratic innovations.
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