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February 8, 2017

Time to open up

Sooner or later, those who are simultaneously threatened and bewildered by the global rise of populism will need to formulate a response. While first instincts might be to pull up the ladder and wait for it all to blow over, a more constructive approach might be to embrace this change, and prise open those systems that have hitherto remained closed shops to all but the established elites. The concept of citizen assemblies has been around for a while. Should our own Scottish Parliament, often praised for its openness and accessibility, take the lead? An event next month explores this prospect.


Oliver Escobar

Is it time for a Citizens’ Assembly in the Scottish Parliament?

When: 3-4:30pm, Monday March 20th

Where: University of Edinburgh – Room 1.18, Paterson’s Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ

With the seemingly unstoppable rise of populism and the word “post-truth” being nominated as the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2016, is it time to re-imagine democracy? Would incorporating ordinary people into government take the sting out of the populist appeal?

Join us to deliberate together on the merits of adding a Citizens’ Assembly as a second chamber to the Scottish Parliament. This chamber could be composed of 73 representative, randomly selected citizens (one from each constituency, balanced to be gender and age representative) who deliberate upon and review proposed government legislation and pass informed judgement upon it – it would be an institutionalised jury of the people. Whether they would have the power to reject or only delay legislation is an open question.

A panel of four critics and proponents will present arguments for and against the idea and join in small-group discussions – come to listen to others and have your own say on the proposal to have a Citizens’ Assembly in the Scottish Parliament.

Panel: Brett Hennig (author, director of the Sortition Foundation), Robin McAlpine (director of Common Space, Scotland), Angela Haggerty (journalist, broadcaster, editor), Marc Geddes (Lecturer in British Politics, University of Edinburgh). Hosted by Oliver Escobar from University of Edinburgh.