Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance
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Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance

Edited by Stephen Elstub and Oliver Escobar

Democratic innovations are proliferating in politics, governance, policy, and public administration. These new processes of public participation are reimagining the relationship between citizens and institutions. This Handbook advances understanding of democratic innovations, in theory and practice, by critically reviewing their importance throughout the world. The overarching themes are a focus on citizens and their relationship to these innovations, and the resulting effects on political equality. The Handbook therefore offers a definitive overview of existing research on democratic innovations, while also setting the agenda for future research and practice.
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Chapter 27: Democratic innovations in Europe

Brigitte Geissel


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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