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Research Report

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Political decision-making by elites require some form of civilian participation to regain legitimacy. Increasingly groups of Citizens do not trust in political elites and are increasingly frustrated by their behavior. When faced with the problem of diversity, even established democracies face problems of managing diversity. In the global context differences of opinion, culture, religion etc has defined many of the New Wars (Kaldor 1999). In the United States many non-state and semi-governmental organizations have developed programs to increase public knowledge of the legislature and its decision-making processes. The ultimate purpose of this is to exercise some control over state power. Legislators are also increasingly convening dialogue processes with their constituencies in order to create the best possible problem-solving mechanisms.

Before the United States‘ model of public deliberation, many indigenous communities practiced a form of joint problem-solving in their villages throughout the world. But the history of New England is rich with a particular form of public deliberation that has continually demonstrated a capacity to increase civic participation and control of state power. New England Town Meetings are a model for direct democracy. The United States, which is also exporting democracy as a political and economic theory to countries facing violent conflict must improve its process domestically before contemplating its possible replication elsewhere. New England‘s public forums have faced certain challenges that must be overcome. These include theoretical and practical challenges with regard to their overall impact on legitimacy through increased citizen participation in decision-making.

Deliberative democracy must prove that citizens can arrive at decisions that can affect the community in a positive way and that these decisions can be implemented by law-makers for the good of the people. While engaged in this process, the public must also grapple with the established forms of decision-making, lack of capacity and interest by its members, elite behavior and other practical and theoretical limitations.



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