Today the Unit publishes the Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK. Set up by the Unit last year, the Assembly offers unparalleled insights into public perceptions of how the UK’s democracy is working and should work. In this post, the project’s Research Assistant, James Cleaver, summarises the Assembly’s recommendations.
The Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK contains the conclusions of the first UK-wide citizens’ assembly to discuss the topic of democracy. Many of these conclusions speak directly to major ongoing political debates: around standards in public life, the balance between key democratic institutions, and the role of the public.
The Assembly was convened to answer the overarching question of ‘How should democracy in the UK work?’. It was conducted by the Constitution Unit in partnership with Involve, the UK’s leading public participation charity. Over six online weekends between September and December last year, Assembly members focused on three key areas of democracy: the relationship between government and parliament; the roles of the public; and ways of upholding rules and standards.
Having deliberated about these topics, members produced eight overarching resolutions and 51 specific recommendations, the latter designed to achieve the ambitions of the resolutions. Looking across these conclusions, three key themes emerge.
First, members expect high standards from those in public life, and they want independent regulators to be able to enforce this. Second, they oppose unduly concentrated power, calling for parliament, the courts and other constitutional checks to play more prominent roles. Third, members want better mechanisms for the public’s voice to be heard, both through improvements to the representative system, and through better use of petitions, referendums and deliberative processes.Continue reading