6.5.3.1 Consultation Techniques

Technology has now made direct consultation easier, for issues which are sufficiently straightforward to be resolved by a voting process.  Nowadays it is possible for a government to conduct informal opinion surveys more easily than ever before, for example by using the Internet, telephone interviews, or phone-in voting in conjunction with a television programme.

It is possible to make arrangements to formally consult specific ethnic groups for issues which affect them.  Existing ethnic organisations can be approached, although they may not be regarded as representative – as discussed in the next sub-section (6.5.3.2).

Survey techniques could be used, with interviews and/or questionnaires, provided that either there had been some mechanism for registering people’s ethnicity or that the sample size was large enough to include a statistically significant number of people in each ethnic group.

Referendums should only be considered as a consultation technique if the government is not bound by the outcome.  It is a mistake to use them to make complex policy decisions, as described earlier (6.5.1.3).

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