Best Paper Award

Every year, the Democratic Innovations ECPR Standing Group awards a Best Paper Prize to the author(s) of a paper presented in the Standing Group’s section at the ECPR General Conference. This year, 11 very promising papers were nominated for the Prize by panel chairs (including panels of the section “Transforming democracy? Connecting studies on citizens preferences for different models of democracy and on reforms of representative democracy,” chaired by Matthew Hibbing and Jean-Benoit Pilet). The shortlisted papers reflect the diversity of approaches and focus points that characterize the field of democratic innovations (see full list below). The 2022 section convenors, Alice el-Wakil, Lucy J. Parry and Saskia Goldberg selected this year’s winner based on considerations of originality, research quality, and fit with this year’s section theme, “Democratizing Democratic Innovations.”

The 2022 Best Paper Prize is awarded to Julien Vrydagh (doctoral candidate, Vrije Universities Brussel and UC Louvain) for his paper “Managing expectations: what can and should we expect from deliberative mini publics?”

The paper contributes to clarifying what normative standards should inform the study, design and practice of minipublics when it comes to connecting these deliberative spaces to collective decision-making processes. Julien Vrydagh proposes to highlight a realist, “action-guiding” framework that connects empirical and theoretical contributions and that centers around two central criteria: the democratic character of minipublics depends on them being both consequential and transformative. The paper then considers what this entails for various phases of the decision-making process – agenda-setting, policy formulation, and decision-making – and formulates design recommendations. Such clarifications make several contributions: they help to better understand why, how, and when minipublics should be part of democratic systems and influence collective decision-making processes; they serve to evaluate specific instances of minipublics, and distinguish better from worse cases thereof; and they can constructively inform the design of minipublics and of the ways in which they should formally (and informally) relate to their context of implementation.

The Prize rewards this effort to take stock of the recent developments in both political theory and empirical research to revisit these central questions to the project of democratization with and of democratic innovations. Congratulations!

The Section convenors also warmly congratulate all the authors of the shortlisted papers: 

  • “Radicalised Democratic Innovations: Democratic Spaces in Perspective” by Hans Asenbaum;
  • “From an Ideological to a Contingent Conceptualisation of Political Process Preferences: A Multidimensional Approach” by Rikki Dean;
  • “Democratic innovations and their impact: Lessons from Gdańsk Citizens’ Assemblies” by Adela Gasiorowska;
  • “Legitimacy perceptions in times of participatory decision-making: Examining elite communication when participatory process outcomes and political decisions clash” by Ine Goovaerts, Jenny de Fine Licht, and Sofie Marien; 
  • “Deliberative Discounting: A Defense of Using Mini-Publics in the Choice of Social Discount Rate” by Masakazu Ogami; 
  • “Contexts of Contestation: Public Deliberation across Political Systems, Sociocultural Divides and News Media” by Eike M. Rinke, Charlotte Lab and Hartmut Wessler;
  • “Boundaries of a climate assembly: regulations and transgressions: The case of the French Citizens’ Climate Convention” by Romane Rozencwajg, Maxime Gaborit and Laurent Jeanpierre; 
  • “Throughout the Looking Glass: The Effect of Participation in a Participatory Budget on Citizens’ Populist Attitudes” by Marie-Isabel Theuwis and Rosa Kindt;
  • “Between technical and political: Citizens and expertise in the French Citizens’ Convention on Climate” by Selma Tilikete; 
  •  “Picturing deliberation: How dissatisfied citizens make sense of deliberation” by Ramon van der Does and Guillaume Petit.

Finally, we wish to thank all who contributed to the section as panel chairs, speakers, discussants, event hosts, and active audience members for making this « back-to-in-person » edition of the Democratic Innovations section such an insightful, inspiring, and enjoyable one. It was an honour to convene this event.

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