6.5.3 Consultative Governance

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/653.htm)

If a government is to do the best for its people it has to know what they want.  Different groups of people in a society can be consulted about their concerns and priorities in relation to a particular issue, to overcome the limitations of representation through voting in democracies (6.3.2.4) and through the shortcomings of politicians as representatives (6.5.1).  It is particularly useful in safeguarding the interests of minority ethnic groups, including Muslims in Western democracies for example.

Consultation can also be considered as a mechanism for public deliberation, whereby people can gradually change the opinion of others by putting forward arguments in a formal published process.

It is not a simple panacea, however.  As discussed in the following sub-sections, there are several aspects to consider:

  • There is a choice of consultation techniques (6.5.3.1).
  • There are problems in ensuring that all views are fairly represented (6.5.3.2).
  • Some safeguards are necessary, to ensure that the results of consultation are accepted as legitimate (6.5.3.3).

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