University of Stuttgart
Together with other EuComMeet consortium members, the research team from the University of Stuttgart, consisting of André Bächtiger and Seraphine Arnold, participated in the ECPR General Conference 2023, held in the city of Prague. This event took place from September 4th to September 8th, gathered academics from across the globe to present updates on current research endeavours as well as engage in profound discussions about the latest advancements and trends in political science and related disciplines.
Within the Democratic Innovation Section and, more specifically, in the panel “the macro-political effects of democratic innovations” the Stuttgart team had the opportunity to present updates on their recent work in cooperation with the University of British Columbia on the determinants of minipublic uptake. They shared results from a new databank, which is part of the EuComMeet project.
This database comprises over 150 minipublic cases across various European countries and on the EU level. The aim was to understand the conditions under which policy recommendations from minipublics are implemented by political authorities. The study explores a wide array of potential factors, including issue type, process design, political support, and the political context of each country.
The findings reveal that minipublic recommendations are more likely to be taken up when there is alignment with preferences of political elites, when minipublics are authorized to make recommendations and – to a lesser degree – when they are organized by political authorities. While this suggests a top-down road to minipublic success, the picture is more nuanced: we find that it does not matter for policy uptake when citizens have the possibility for policy development or when there are no politicans present in the minipublic. Finally, issue type, size and format do not have any effect on minipublic uptake. These findings have major implications for understanding the political and democratic role of minipublics in democratic systems.
Communicating the findings of the Stuttgart partners of the EuComMeet consortium at the ECPR was a great opportunity to strengthen the work through gathering feedback from the scientific community and supports increasing the visibility of the EuComMeet project as a whole.
University of Warsaw
At the time when concerns for the societal effects of disinformation grow, we need deeper consideration for knowledge accumulation and framing in deliberation processes. Responding to this need, at the ECPR General Conference in 2023, Anna Przybylska, Shin Mazur and Borys Tencer from the University of Warsaw shared the results of analysis aiming at reconstructing the model(s) for the briefing materials’ preparation, their role and content. The authors used alternative keywords indicating “briefing materials” to retrieve from the Web of Science and Scopus 159 articles published between 1984 and 2021 and integrate fragmentary information from academic literature. The coded data showed that 33 texts contained information about subjects preparing briefing materials, mostly being representatives of institutions or social organizations, while only eight justified their role in the process. Exclusively in three instances, the citizens were involved as consultants. Moreover, only eight out of 31 articles discussed the preparation of briefing materials. The balanced character of the materials, which provide knowledge or understanding, influence reflexivity and debating, and offer options to inspire decision-making, has been highlighted. The value of “inclusion” was mainly implemented through a plurality of solutions to a problem included in the materials. However, it remains understudied how the briefing materials are representative of opinions in society and may be complemented during the deliberation process. As citizens’ inclusion in preparation or at least assessment may strengthen trust in the deliberation process, it is worth further analysis of how its various aspects may have an impact. Framing and structure have been given little attention so far; thus, for example, interviews might help complement this and other information gaps.