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Power to the people

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Science  30 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6516, pp. 518-521
DOI: 10.1126/science.370.6516.518

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Summary

A growing number of countries are turning to citizens' assemblies—randomly selected groups of ordinary citizens—to offer suggestions on thorny policy matters, including climate change. The U.K. Climate Assembly produced its final policy recommendations last month, following a French assembly that recommended including climate goals in the French constitution, and an Irish assembly that led to a government plan to quadruple its carbon tax. Advocates of the method say random selection can cut through the polarization that emerges when politics listens only to the loudest voices, and that citizens can engage in longer term thinking than elected politicians, producing more ambitious proposals and bolstering political will. Scotland, Denmark, and Spain have announced their own climate assemblies, joining the worldwide surge of experiments in deliberative democracy.

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