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G1000	                Report	  of	  the	  International	  Observers	                 ‘As European democracies are in crisi...
Prof. Dr. Jean Tillie (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Nederland)        Jean Tillie is Professor Electoral Policies and progr...
to participation not only in its endeavours to ensure diversity of age, gender, geography and socio-economic status but al...
Impressive was also the smooth and to-the-minute flow of the entire G1000. With military-like precision,notes were passed ...
hours; different skill sets and abilities of the participants; noisy, crowded surroundings; linguisticrestrictions; a tigh...
democracy is organised in Belgium in general and the process of G1000 could also help us to define whatkind of democracy w...
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Report of the International Observers on the G1000

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Report of the International Observers at the G1000 Citizens Summit: Ida Andersen (Danish Board of Technology, Denmark), Prof. dr. David Farrell (University College Dublin, Ireland), Dr. Clodagh Harris (University College Cork, Ireland), Ms. Cécile Le Clercq and Ms. Joana Vieira da Silva (European Commission), Prof. Dr. Richard Stilmann II (University of Colorado Denver, USA), Dr. Julien Talpin (Université de Lille 2, France), Prof. Dr. Jean Tillie (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Nederland), and Mr. Martin Wilhelm (Citizens for Europe, Germany)

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Report of the International Observers on the G1000

  1. 1. G1000   Report  of  the  International  Observers   ‘As European democracies are in crisis the G1000 shows a way forward’Members of the International Observer Team: Ms. Ida Andersen (Danish Board of Technology, Denmark) The Danish Board of Technology is an independent council of the Danish government since 1986 and has developed numerous methods for the purpose of involving citizens, including the Citizens’ Hearing and the Consensus Conference. http://www.tekno.dk Prof. dr. David Farrell (University College Dublin, Ireland) Professor Farrell is head of the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin. A specialist in electoral systems and parties, Professor Farrell co-edits Party Politics and the ECPR/OUP book series on Comparative Politics. His most recent book is Political Parties and Democratic Linkage (with Russell Dalton and Ian McAllister; OUP 2011). Professor Farrell was the research director of the ‘We The Citizens’ Irish deliberative experiment that occurred in 2011. http://www.ucd.ie/research/people/politicsintrelations/professordavidfarrell/ Dr. Clodagh Harris (University College Cork, Ireland) Dr Clodagh Harris researches deliberative democracy, active democratic citizenship and political participation. In 2004 she was seconded to TASC an independent think tank in Dublin to manage its Democracy Commission project (funded by the JRCT) and edit its final report ‘Engaging citizens the case for democratic renewal in Ireland’ (2005). Dr. Harris has also been commissioned by the National Forum on Europe and by the European Movement to facilitate the Irish strands of the European Citizens Consultations. http://publish.ucc.ie/researchprofiles/B007/clodaghharris Ms. Cécile Le Clercq and Ms. Joana Vieira da Silva (European Commission) Ms. Le Clercq represents the ‘Citizens Policy’ Unit at the European Commission’s Communication DG. The unit’s Europe for Citizens programme’s main priorities include encouraging citizens to become actively involved in the process of European integration. http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/who-we-are/doc58_en.htm Prof. Dr. Richard Stilmann II (University of Colorado Denver, USA) Richard J. Stillman II is a Professor of Public Administration at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver. He is an elected fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration and the Editor of Public Administration Review, The Premier Journal of Public Administration. http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/SPA/FacultyStaff/Faculty/Pages/RichardStillman. aspx Dr. Julien Talpin (Université de Lille 2, France) Researches deliberative democracy, political socialisation and the transformations of representative government. His research deals with deliberative democracy, political socialisation and the transformations of representative government. He has studied a variety of democratic innovations from citizen juries, neighbourhood councils and participatory budgeting. http://www.csu.cnrs.fr/talpin.html
  2. 2. Prof. Dr. Jean Tillie (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Nederland) Jean Tillie is Professor Electoral Policies and programme leader of the AISSR programme group ‘Challenges to Democratic Representation’. Jean Tillie studies the quality of multicultural democracy. His research focuses on radicalism and extremism, extreme right voting behavior, anti-immigrant feelings and the political integration of immigrants. He is also coordinating the EURISLAM project (an international comparative study on the social-cultural integration of Muslims). http://home.medewerker.uva.nl/j.n.tillie/ Mr. Martin Wilhelm (Citizens for Europe, Germany) Director of Citizens for Europe, a Berlin-based, non-partisan, non-governmental and nonprofit organisation, established to empower citizens in the EU with more political participation opportunities, from local to European level. http://citizensforeurope.org/ Introduction/AcknowledgementAs International Observers we are thankful for having had the opportunity to closely follow the audaciousdemocratic and deliberative experiment of bringing together 1,000 people to debate and decide on socialand economic issues of great relevance. It was a unique experience and very inspiring to see and feel theenthusiasm and true engagement of all participants, volunteers and organisers and we believe that theseare the ‘raw materials’ of future democracies. We especially thank the initiators of G1000 for havinginvited us to evaluate this experiment. Throughout our stay we were warmly hosted and smoothlyintroduced to the G1000 process. Though not all of us did have the language skills to follow the debates atthe tables, the open and transparent spirit of the G1000 and its organisers enabled us to deliver thefollowing report. As a summary, we can state that our overall impressions were very positive. Weespecially appreciate that the G1000 is an independent, non-partisan, inclusive and voluntary project,truly developed from the bottom up by citizens with sincere concerns, will and visions. On the participantsThis project has given citizens an opportunity to ‘use their voice’ between elections and to step into thevacuum created by political representatives. One of the most impressive features of the G1000 was thediversity of participants with regard to gender, age, political preferences, and with regard to social,professional, and cultural background. This also concerns the inclusion of different faith communities anda fair representation of the different language communities in Belgium. Having interviewed manydifferent participants we can state that all of them felt honoured to participate ‘in this new way ofdemocracy’ and that many of them felt that it is high-time for such a new form of democracy. Weexperienced an overwhelming positive atmosphere among the participants who also expressed a strongbelief in their ability to arrive at workable policy recommendations. Participants generally found that thetopics, proposals and decisions made at their table were well clustered by the central desk and that thesummary in the plenary reflected very much their debates. It would be interesting to see whether thetable facilitators could validate these impressions. Due to the very tight agenda, some participants wishedfor more time for reflection as discussions were sometimes hasty at the tables. The work of the tablefacilitators was judged very positively, especially their ability to ensure respectful and focused discussionsand a fair participation of everyone at the table. The input by the experts was mostly judged as objective,though some participants expressed their concern that they were slightly biased towards left-wing views.We believe that everybody who was able to speak either French or Dutch had a chance to follow all stagesof the G1000 and to get engaged either as participant or volunteers. The G1000 took an inclusive approach
  3. 3. to participation not only in its endeavours to ensure diversity of age, gender, geography and socio-economic status but also in the variety of participation opportunities offered. The pioneering use of the G‘homes’ and G ‘offs’ at the same time as the G1000 summit ensured that those who were not selected todeliberate in ‘tours and taxis’ could still have their say. That these G ‘homes’ and G ‘offs’ participantswill also form the G32 is a significant strength of this project. From a gendered perspective, the provisionof childcare facilities ensured female participation for the full G1000 summit. The organisers andvolunteers are to be commended for this.For us, and probably also for the participants, the translation of the input by experts was sometimes hardto follow due to interferences. However, thanks to the mix of French slides and Dutch speech, or viseversa, the linguistic complexity throughout the day was managed successfully. Registration and arrival ofparticipants was well organised and ran smoothly. Considering the number of participants and the size ofthe hall, noise levels were much lower than expected. However, we noticed some interference betweenthe tables and some participants expressed their difficulties in hearing others across their table. Thisaffected especially elderly participants who had more difficulties to follow the debates. In summary, wecan state that, even if some minor problems and challenges occurred, the G1000 has been a great successin the view of participants. On the expertsThanks to the simultaneous interpretation of the keynotes into English we were able to understand thethematic context of the debates. From what we have understood we find that the keynotes were slightlybiased as all experts introduced the three themes from a somewhat ‘left-wing’ oriented perspective.Therefore, their input did not necessarily represent the full diversity of the viewpoints that exists onthese themes. As the plurality of expertise is a crucial criterion for the legitimacy and reliability ofdeliberative processes, we find that the experts’ inputs were a weakness. A disclosure of the experts’biographies could have helped to put their keynotes into a context. However, the impact of the keynoteson the final voting results seemed to be small as the latter were quite mainstream or at least did not showa clear relation to the ones proposed by the experts. Thus, the danger that experts frame the proposalsand participants will only agree or disagree with to them was present but not determining. Still, thekeynotes for every theme could have been more polarised to enlarge the scope of discussions thatfollowed at the tables. We believe a more divergence of input, especially in the field of distribution ofwealth, would have been beneficial and allowed for more non-conventional and new proposals. On the political dimensionFrom what we understood the G1000 has always meant to be a complementary tool to the parliamentaryor representative democracy and was to provide new stimuli for political development in Belgium.Listening to the final remarks of the presidents of the different parliaments in Belgium, we do see thatG1000 has earned the respect of these politicians which centered in the quote ‘we do not have themonopoly on ideas and solutions’. However, the G1000 has also triggered a somewhat uneasy feelingconcerning the legitimacy of the politicians own position and decisions. The challenge is now to remindthe political representatives of this and to persuade them of the benefits of deliberative co-governance. On the general processWe were stroke by the success of the mobilisation of volunteers, participants and the media. Theenergetic response to the public invitation set forth by the organisers was certainly to be credited to theircommunication, dissemination and advocacy efforts. At the same time, this success also proved evidencethat the G1000 hit the nail on the head as it reflects the citizens’ eagerness to be involved in new formsof political engagement that allow their voices to be heard.
  4. 4. Impressive was also the smooth and to-the-minute flow of the entire G1000. With military-like precision,notes were passed from the tables to the central desk enabling the aggregation of themes, thepreparation of powerpoint slides, and the preparation of ballots. It was the proof that many skillful peoplewith different resources and capacities planned and put together this event and that reliable technologywas in place, e.g. voting machines and visual presentation techniques. The downside of such time-precision was the necessity of a somewhat top-down management, both at the tables and at the centraldesk, that might have altered or limited the discussion outcomes. As the central desk had the power topredetermine the policy options for a later vote by clustering the many different proposals from everytable, its potential influence should not be underestimated. To our view, this process should have beenmade more explicit and transparent, especially for the participants as for them it was not always clearhow the proposals were produced at the end for voting. Additionally, the classification of the input fromeach table along a pre-set of proposals steaming from the experts’ keynotes did reduce the creativity ofdeliberation to some extent. However, we believe that with the application of the ‘grounded theory’method and a successful round of reliability tests, the clustering at the central met a high level ofvalidity. As stated above, this was also supported by the impression of participants.Concerning the number of themes, we believe that the decision to debate four distinct themes within oneday limited the participants’ capacity to fully assimilate the complexity of these themes, also becausethere was no thematic material available for preparation prior to the event. The reduction to a couple oftopics would have allowed for a better fine-tuning of the single proposals, possibly with an additionalplenary session in which participants could reflect and compare their discussion with those of othertables. Though we did not find evidence and no participant addressed it to us, the packed agendainhabited the risk that the organisers would be too selective when clustering the proposals and seeking aranking among them.The bottom-up procedure to identify three distinct themes for the G1000, starting with 5,000 issues andincluding the vote of several thousands of citizens, was a great success and the risk of ending up withinappropriate topics did not occur. However, the process of framing, summarising and clustering the 5,000proposals to 25 need to be made more transparent and the methodology should be explained also thewebsite. This could also include more information about the team itself, in charge of the clustering andframing. Their socio-economic and demographic background might have impacted the process. Thewebsite itself was very user friendly and offered lots of information on the manifesto, principles, fundingmechanisms, workplan and others, and thus ensure a high degree of transparency.One of the major factors for the success of the G1000 were the several hundred volunteers that took carefor meals, refreshments, breaks or the kids’ corner. But not only their engagement during the G1000 daybut their engagement in the recruiting process was crucial. At the same time the management of thevolunteers was equally successful.The Name G1000 humbled us. Everybody knows that G-summits usually end in failure and are oftenaccompanied by big and sometimes violent mass protests. Therefore, the name might has triggered not-intentional connotations. On the financial aspect, the G1000 team secured their independence of financialsupporters by ceiling the financial support of an individual actor to 7% of the total project budget.In summary, the G1000 lived up to the internationally excepted standards of mass deliberative processes,which concerns both the selection of participants as well as the clustering of the topics and proposals. 0n the facilitatorsFrom what we have seen, the facilitators did a terrific job in extremely difficult circumstances: very long
  5. 5. hours; different skill sets and abilities of the participants; noisy, crowded surroundings; linguisticrestrictions; a tightly-packed agenda. It was very impressive to see them in operation – they were a creditto the organisation, even more so given that they were doing this voluntarily. They applied participatorymethods that allowed for active participation and ownership of the tables’ and the aggregated results andthe alternating between different formats and techniques made the whole process lively and easy even forthose who were not used to speak in public. The facilitators presented and clearly explained the processfor the table discussions and guided the participants well through the process. Stationery and relatedmaterials at all tables, including mobile flip charts, were well planned, appropriate and widely used. Itwas clear from the hearty and prolonged applause, that the facilitators received at the end of the day,that their work was much been appreciated. We recommend to harvest the facilitators’ experiences madeduring the G1000. Their perceptions on group dynamics and contents of the debate are extremely valuablefor both the evaluation process of the G1000 and the G32. Though the preparation and briefing of thefacilitators did happen only a day prior to the event, they mostly felt well prepared and secure, surelyalso thanks to their professional background and experiences. Along with the graphic facilitation, theywere the key to success. On the G32We find it very important that the G32 are given adequate space and time to truly get to grips with thecomplexities of the themes and that every effort is made to ensure that it is they who are in control ofthe agenda, not the G1000 organising team. We also suggest a per-briefing of key political leaders toachieve sufficient political buy-in and ensure that the G32 get transposed to political debates. We believeit is very important that all the inputs submitted to the central desk during the G1000 are passed on to theG32 and taken into account. This is also to assess the quality of the clustering and to evaluate to whatextent the clustering covers all the policy options identified during the G1000. We recommend to keep thetransparency also for the G32 and to allow those who are not participating in loco to easily follow theprocess and its results. It was a wise decision that participants of the G ‘homes’ and G ‘offs’ will also formthe G32 and it gives the project a significant strength. Looking aheadHaving received a great deal of attention from the public national and international media, the effortshould be made to make politicians to publicly deliver answers and justifications on what they’ll make ofthe proposals, especially of the ones the G32 will produce - perhaps with an additional media event, atwhich political representatives debate these proposals. With that, the G1000 could push electedrepresentatives to give reasons to their policy choices and to make them accountable for taking them in orrefusing them. This would also meet the expectations of the citizens’ that have been taken part in theG1000 and might avoid frustration.We recommend to use the experiences and insights of the G1000 to draw more general lessons onparticipatory processes, their outputs and impacts. Given the heavy costs and logistics associated withsuch participatory methodologies, how can a strong link with the political level be established to ensurethat the results will be duly considered?Concerning the content level, one could investigate which topics are most suitable for mass deliberationand identify the added value of such processes especially for controversial issues. Additionally, whatlessons could be drawn from the participants’ feelings, based on what motivated them to take part andwhat did they experience during the G1000? It would be valuable to survey participants on these issues.Talking to participants, there was a diffuse understanding of why the G1000 actually happened and whatwas their motivation to participate. It seemed that there is a general dissatisfaction with the way
  6. 6. democracy is organised in Belgium in general and the process of G1000 could also help us to define whatkind of democracy would better meet the needs of the citizens.First draft by Martin Wilhelm, compilation of the observerswilhelm@citizensforeurope.org