Sample Article Review On Deliberative Polling
Deliberative Polling refers to the use of television and public opinion research in constructive and new ways. As we saw in Christiano’s chapter, for many political philosophers, the ideal of democracy requires more than merely that citizens turn out to vote in elections. Rather, it requires that they do so after having informed themselves about the issues relevant to their vote, weighed them up in private, and deliberated about them with their fellow citizens in public.
Contemporary democracy suffers from ‘rational ignorance’. Citizens have insufficient reason to seek out information about the political decisions facing them in elections, referendums, and ‘civic privatism’. Citizens vote on the basis of their narrow self-interest, without considering the common good. ‘Deliberative Polling’, developed by political scientist James Fishkin is one proposal to address these problems.
Deliberative Polling involves giving a group of citizens the opportunity to hear information about some policy issue, debate one another, and question experts, before coming to a verdict. One of the most striking things about this kind of polling is that it experiments the changes recorded in the views of the participants at the conclusion of the process.
How deliberative polling works
A sample is chosen randomly from the electorate in purely scientific manner and is interviewed over a number of contemporary issues in that country.
The participants are invited to a certain location where they are thoroughly briefed about the significance of the polling exercise using a number of aids for their informativeness. In this training, small joint discussions, led by a moderator, and plenary sessions, which are intended to enable the participants, get a tight grip of the concepts. The participants are then availed with survey questionnaires containing questions similar to those that were deliberated upon.
The difference in opinion is recorded after this deliberative exercise in a number of cases. Quite a number of countries world over have held polls similar to these including United Kingdom, Australia, the US, Canada, Brazil, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria, among others. The results of such exercises are routinely telecast of televisions. Inasmuch as the people have widely utilized this technique of polling, it is still the case that about a few hundred citizens at a time have been able to participate. The ardent believers in this process are pondering on ways that could sway as many people as possible into accepting the significance of such a process.
In a well-known paper, Fishkin has imagined a nation-wide ‘Deliberation Day’. To be held in the run-up to major elections, and designed to bring about a country’s democracy as a whole. As described by Ackerman and Fishkin, all participating citizens on this Day will be given the opportunity to ask the candidates questions seeking their vote. The aim is to ensure that not only are citizens better informed about the issues at stake in the election, but also that the competing parties and candidates treat them as such reflections during speeches from the campaign trail.
According to them, this has the potential to transform our voting process by elevating the electorate to a better position in making the right decisions. The proposal looks utopian, requiring a considerable amount of financial investment, and involving disruption to people’s work day lives, to a degree that makes it rather unlikely that politicians would support when it needs implementation.
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