Citizens' assemblies in Baden-Württemberg "well proven"

26. October 2021
Wikimedia/Mussklprozz, Artadict; pixabay/Clker-Free-Vector-Images, stux; Unsplash/Laura Chouette

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.

Interim conclusion

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.

Read more: Study "Citizens' Assemblies: Practical Experiences from Baden-Württemberg" (PDF)