In April 2017, I wrote a report on behalf of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy about citizen engagement in politics and policymaking to present to a delegation of Ukrainian MPs in Kiev.
New forms of citizen engagement are seen as an important addition, not a replacement, to representative democracy. Citizen engagement has been most successful when seen as part of a holistic approach to government and democratic reform. Rather than one legislative measure or one consultation on an ad hoc basis, it is about a medium- to long-term approach to decentralisation and democratic participation.
While new online tools allow governments to bypass the limitations of time and space, the need for in-person meetings will never disappear. This is especially true when it comes to issues or decisions that require people to have empathy and build trust.
My report outlines a number of case studies ranging across: national government; regional government; local government; non-governmental organisations (NGOs); academic institutions and less formal community groups.
They cover formal pieces of legislation, the impact of bottom-up civil society campaigns on shaping government action, the interaction between government, NGOs and civil society, and the relationship between government and participatory practitioners to build the evidence base of ‘what works.’
View the full Citizen engagement in politics and policymaking: Lessons from the UK report.