According to a new study by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, citizens' assemblies and other deliberation-based participation procedures in the German State of Baden-Württemberg represent an "attempt, which has so far been largely rated as successful, to involve citizens more comprehensively in large-scale political projects and to make better use of the know-how available in the citizenry".
The "Stuttgart 21" railway project has raised many eyebrows in Baden-Württemberg. Upset citizens protested against the new underground railway station in Stuttgart. The protests escalated in September 2010 and the pictures went around the world.
Consultative citizen participation expanded
Since then, a lot has happened in Baden-Württemberg: In order to involve citizens in decisions earlier, the hurdles for referendums were lowered. On the other hand, consultative, deliberation-oriented citizen participation has been expanded in very different contexts and formats, such as so-called citizens' assemblies.
In citizens' assemblies, randomly selected citizens come together to develop a proposal for a solution. Participation is voluntary and the result has the character of a recommendation. In the meantime, eight citizens' assemblies have been held in Baden-Württemberg.
This study draws an interim conclusion on consultative, deliberation-oriented citizen participation in Baden-Württemberg. Can these formats be considered a success? What are the limits of such citizen participation formats? Where is the potential? Prof. Dr. Ulrich Eith and Jacqueline Meier examined these questions and compiled the results in their analysis.