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Real Democracy Now! a podcast

Real Democracy Now! a podcast answers the question: can we do democracy differently? If you're dissatisfied with the current state of democracy but not sure how it could be improved this is the podcast for you. You'll hear from experts and activists as well as everyday people about how democracy works and how it can be improved. Then you get to choose which reforms you think would make the most difference.
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Real Democracy Now! a podcast
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Oct 26, 2017
Welcome to episode four of season three of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. This episode is also the 43rd episode of the podcast and the first one since the first birthday of the podcast last week. To help celebrate the podcast’s birthday I’d appreciate it if you could share either your favourite episode of the podcast or the podcast generally with someone you think would find it interesting. 
 
Today's episode is about electoral reform with Dr Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit at UCL in London. Alan’s expertise lies mainly in the areas of electoral systems, referendums, and other modes of engaging the public in decision-making processes, such as citizens’ assemblies. His research is comparative: besides the UK, his recent projects have included all European democracies as well as New Zealand, Japan, and Canada. In addition to numerous journal articles, chapters and reports he is the author of two books about electoral reform: A Citizens’ Guide to Electoral Reform and The Politics of Electoral Reform: Changing the Rules of Democracy.
 
Thanks for joining me today. In the next episode I’ll be talking with Professor Pippa Norris about electoral integrity. 
 
I am currently putting together interviews about electoral systems around the world and so far I’ve interviewed people about India, South and Southern Africa, Australia, Asia and the South Pacific and New Zealand. 
 
I would also like to interview someone about electoral systems in Latin America but have not been successful in finding the right person to do this. If you know someone who you could fill this gap please introduce them to me via email at nivek.thompson@uts.edu.au 
Oct 3, 2017
Welcome to episode 3 in Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 is about elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives. In this episode I’m speaking with Professor John Gastil. John is a Professor in the Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University as well as a Senior Scholar in the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. He studies political deliberation and group decision making across a range of contexts.
 
Recently John and Erik Olin Wright, as part of the Real Utopias project, held a three-day workshop called Legislature by Lot. Thanks to David Schecter I was able to interview John shortly after this workshop to learn more about what was discussed. A copy of the agenda for the workshop which includes the attendees is available with the Show Notes for this episode.
 
John described this workshop as ‘a deliberation about deliberation’.
 
John spoke about
  • the origins of the Legislature by Lot workshop [1:32]
  • the different ways to implement sortition (random selection) [3:54]
  • some of the arguments in favour of a legislature selected by lot [5:44]
  • different models of sortition [7:40]
  • responding to criticisms of legislature by lot [10:11]
  • how to design an oversight body to support a legislature selected by lot [14:10]
  • the prospect of institutional change and transition strategies [18:34]
  • moving the agenda of using sortition forward [23:43]
  • how much work is happening around the world to test and promote the use of sortition [28:35]
  • what representation and accountability means for bodies selected by sortition [30:29]
  • deliberation, consensus, contention and voting [34:35 and 38:50]
  • what the workshop agreed on [43:18]
  • what might happen after the workshop: building links between researchers and practitioners [45:34]
  • responses to critiques of empowered mini-publics [49:35]
  • when the book arising from the workshop will be published [53:07]
John mentioned the work of the Sortition Foundation, the newDemocracy Foundation to promote the use of sortition.
 
Thank you for joining me today. In the next episode I will be speaking to Dr Alan Renwick about electoral reform around the world [54:11].
 
I hope you’ll join me then.
Sep 24, 2017
Welcome to episode 2 of Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 is looking at elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives.
 
In today’s episode, I’m talking with Professor Arend Lijphart about his work identifying two main categories of democracies which relate in part to their electoral systems. 
 
Arend is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California. His field of specialisation is comparative politics. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, with the two editions of his Patterns of Democracy from 1984 and 2012 being perhaps his most well-known and the subject of our conversation today. 
 
I spoke with Professor Lijphart about 
 
How he came to devote his life to the detailed empirical analysis of democracy in multiple countries around the world [1.10]
 
The relationship between his empirical work and his theory around patterns of democracy [5.30]
 
The variables he uses to demonstrate that consensual democracies outperform majoritarian democracies [18:35 ]
 
Criticisms that his approach does not apply to developing non-Western democracies [28.10]
 
In the next episode I’ll be talking to Professor John Gastil, a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State College of Liberal Arts, about a workshop he recently co-hosted with Erik Olin Wright, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, titled Legislature by Lot [32.37]
 
I hope you’ll join me then.
Sep 17, 2017
Thank you for joining me in episode 1 of Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 of the podcast is looking at Elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives. As you can imagine this is a huge area to cover and I would like to thank Anika Gauja from the University of Sydney who helped me develop a broad structure for this Season. 
 
I’m going to start looking at a few areas at a high level before moving into more detail in areas such as electoral systems around the world, negative campaigning and populism, compulsory vs voluntary voting, the various institutions and actors involved and alternatives to elections, where I’ll look at sortition and digital democracy.
 
In today’s episode, I’m talking to Professor David Farrell. David is a Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University College Dublin. He is a specialist in the study of parties, elections, electoral systems and members of parliament. His current research focuses on the role of deliberation in constitutional reform processes.
 
I asked David
How would you define the term ‘electoral system’? [1:45]
 
How do you approach comparing so many different approaches to electoral systems around the world? [4:20]
 
How do you characterise different families of electoral systems? [5.00]
 
Could you provide an overview of the key elements of different electoral systems? [6:00]
 
How can everyday people evaluate the different options? [15:05]
 
Are there electoral reforms that warrant serious consideration that are still only theoretical i.e. they haven’t been used anywhere? [20:25]
 
What do you think about the idea of using sortition to select a house of review? [22:15]
 
If you were asked to re-design the Irish electoral system what would it look like? [25:25]
Thank you for joining me today. In next week’s episode I’ll be talking to Emeritus Professor Arend Lijphartabout his lifetime’s work. [29:40]
 
I hope you’ll join me then.
 
Jul 23, 2017
Welcome to episode 18 in Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. This episode is part 4 of the series where my guests share their views in response to the question: If you could change one thing about our system of democracy what would it be? And it is also the last episode in Season 2 about representative democracy. I’ll be taking a break to put together Season 3 looking at Elections, voting and alternatives.
 
First up let’s hear from Professor Nadia Urbinati’s response to this question. Nadia is is a Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies at Columbia University. She is a political theorist who specialises in modern and contemporary political thought and the democratic and anti-democratic traditions. I spoke with Nadia about the development of representative democracy in episode 2 of Season 2.
 
Next is Dr Simon Longstaff is the Executive Director of the Ethics Centre here in Sydney Australia. Simon was my guest in episode 17 of Season 2 talking about the relationship between democracy and ethics.
 
Lewis Adams who was a juror on the Infrastructure Victoria Citizens’ Jury in 2015 and a guest on Episode 17 in Season 1.
 
Nancy Thomas is the Director of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education in the Jonathan M Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts College. My interview with Nancy will be published in a later season of the podcast. 
 
Helene Landemore is Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Her research interests encompass democratic theory, theories of justice, Enlightenment thinkers, and the philosophy of social sciences.
 
Jean-Paul Gagnon from the University of Canberra. Jean-Paul is a philosopher of democracy specialising in democratic theory. I spoke with Jean-Paul in Episode 6 in Season 2 about his work identifying the many adjectives associated with democracy.
 
Harm van Dijk is one of the founders of the G1000 in the Netherlands. I spoke with Harm in Episode 15 in Season 1 about the design of the G1000 there.
 
The next person to answer the question is Professor James Fishkin who holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University where he is Professor of Communication, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy. I spoke with Professor Fishkin about deliberative polling in episode 16 in Season 1.
 
Andy Holdup who was a member of the Citizens’ Assembly South in Southhampton in the UK in 2015 and also a guest on episode 17 in Season 1.
 
And finally, we hear from Benjamin Isakhan who is Associate Professor of Politics and Policy Studies and Founding Director of POLIS, a research network for Politics and International Relations in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization at Deakin University, Australia. I spoke with Ben in episode 4 of Season 2 about non-Western democracy. 
 
Thank you for joining me for Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast, looking at how representative democracy developed and how it operates. I’ll be back with Season 3 on Elections, voting and alternatives in September 2017. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the podcast, I’d suggest you do that now so that when Season 3 starts you’ll automatically have those episodes downloaded onto your podcast app. 
Jul 16, 2017
Welcome to episode 17 in Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Today I’m talking with Dr Simon Longstaff the Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, based in Sydney, Australia.
 
Simon began his working life on Groote Eylandt (Anindilyakwa) in the Northern Territory where he worked in the Safety Department of the then BHP subsidiary, GEMCO. He is proud of his kinship ties with members of the island’s Indigenous community. Following a period studying law in Sydney and a brief career teaching in Tasmania, Simon undertook postgraduate studies in philosophy as a Member of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Simon commenced his work as the first Executive Director of The Ethics Centre in 1991. Simon is a Fellow of CPA Australia and in June 2016, was appointed an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University – based at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies. Formerly serving as the inaugural President of The Australian Association for Professional & Applied Ethics, Simon serves on a number of boards and committees across a broad spectrum of activities. He was formerly a Fellow of the World Economic Forum.
 
The Ethics Centre (previously known as St James Ethics Centre) is an independent not-for-profit organisation that has been working for over 25 years to help people navigate the complexity and uncertainty of difficult ethical issues. The Ethics Centre delivers innovative programs, services and experiences, designed to bring ethics to the centre of professional and personal life, and align actions with values and principles.
 
I speak with Simon about how democracy and ethics interact, both ideally and in practice. Simon argues that “any divorce between ethics and politics completely destroys the capacity of democracy and particularly representative democracy to operate as it ought to do.”
 
The next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast will be the last in Season 2 and will be part 4 of the ‘one change to democracy’ set. 
 
After that, I’ll be taking a break to put together Season 3, which is all about elections, voting and alternatives. 
Jul 12, 2017
Welcome to episode 16 in Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. In this episode, I talk to a few of my previous guests about the relationship between representative democracy and capitalism. Some common themes emerge, specifically around the power of capital challenging the power of democratically elected governments and the problem of growing inequality and the erosion of the welfare state and social democracy. 
 
My first guest is Professor Wolfgang Merkel who spoke about his paper Is Capitalism compatible with Democracy?     
 
Professor Merkel is the Director of the Research Unit: Democracy and Democratization at the WZB Social Science Research Centre Berlin, as well as heading up the Centre for Global Constitutionalism and a number of other projects. He has written widely on democracy, democratisation, social democracy and democracy & capitalism to name but a few in academic and non-academic publications. Professor Merkel is a co-project leader of the Democracy Barometer.
 
Next, I spoke with Professor Leonardo Morlino who suggests that whilst we can legitimately talk about alternate systems to democracy asking about alternatives to capitalism is a rhetorical question. 
 
Professor Morlino is a professor of political science and director of the Research Center on Democracies and Democratizations at LUISS, Rome. Prof. Morlino is a leading specialist in comparative politics with expertise on Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and the phenomenon of democratization. 
 
My third guest is Associate Professor Sofia Näsström who spoke about a paper she wrote with Sara Kalm from Lund University, titled A democratic critique of precarity in which they identify precarity as 'which you identify as the material and psychological vulnerability resulting from neo-liberal economic reforms.'
 
Associate Professor Näsström is from the Department of Government, Uppsala University in Sweden. She works in the field of political theory, with a particular focus on issues related to democracy, constituent power, the people, the right to have rights, representation, freedom and precarity.
 
And finally, I spoke with Professor Archon Fung about the relationship between representative democracy and free-market capitalism, and also about his work around workplace democracy. I hope to look at workplace democracy in more detail in a later season of the podcast.
 
Professor Fung is the Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His research explores policies, practices, and institutional designs that deepen the quality of democratic governance. He focuses on public participation, deliberation, and transparency. He co-directs the Transparency Policy Project and leads democratic governance programs of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School. 
 
In the next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I’ll be talking with Dr Simon Longstaff the Executive Director of the Ethics Centre here in Australia about ethics and democracy. He touches on democracy and capitalism too. I hope you’ll join me then.
Jul 5, 2017
Thank you for joining me in episode 15 in Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast.
 
I ask all of my guests two questions: 
  1. what for them is the essence of a real democracy? and 
  2. if they could change one thing about our system of democracy what would it be?
This episode is the third episode where I’ve put together a range of my guests' answers to the question:
 
If you could change one thing about our system of democracy, what would it be?
 
We are very near the end of Season 2 - only three episodes to go and I will soon be starting interviews for Season 3 about elections, voting and alternatives. 
 
I intend to continue to ask all of my guests their view on what is the essence of a real democracy. 
 
I’m thinking of replacing the ‘one change’ question from Season 3 onwards and would appreciate your ideas on a new question. 
 
Please send your suggestions either via email to nivek@realdemocracynow.com.au or let me know via Twitter or Facebook. I’ll be starting the interviews for Season 3 soon and would like to have the new question ready for those interviews.
 
First up we hear from Professor Gerry Stoker who was part of episode 12 in Season 2 talking about the democratic deficit. Gerry is Professor of Governance within Social Sciences: Politics and International Relations at the University of Southampton. He is also the Centenary Professor of Governance in the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra. In this episode, Gerry outlines both what his research says about what citizens would like changed as well as sharing his views. 
 
The next person is Dr Roslyn Fullerwho was my guest on episode 2 in Season 2 talking about the role of direct democracy in ancient Athens.Roslyn is a Canadian-Irish academic and columnist, specializing in public international law, and the impact of technological innovation on democracy.She’d like to see quite dramatic change, although she does recognise it may take time.
 
Up next is Max Hardy who was a guest in Season 1 episode 11 talking about facilitating deliberative mini-publics in Australia. Max is the Principal at Max Hardy Consulting where he works with leaders and organisations to achieve results through collaboration. Not surprisingly Max would like to see citizens involved more directly in decision-making.
 
Carolyn Lukensmeyerwas also a guest in Season 1 episode 13 talking about her work with America Speaks. Carolyn is currently the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organisation in the United States that works to reduce political dysfunction and incivility in the political system. She identifies two changes, both institutional, that she would like to see.
 
Ben McPeek shared his experience as a member of the Residents’ Reference Panel for the Davenport Community Rail Overpass project in episode 17 of Season 1. He identifies the need to respect expertise.
 
Caroline Victor was a member of the Dogs and Cats Citizens’ Jury in South Australia and was also part of episode 17 in Season 1. She would like democracy to make more use of technology.
 
I first spoke with Didier Caluwaertsin episode 14 in Season 1 about the G1000 in Belgium.Didier is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the VUB. He would like to set up systems which support a long-term focus in decision-making.
 
Emily Jenke shared her experiences designing and facilitating deliberative mini-publics in South Australia in episode 10 of Season 1. Emily is a co-CEO of Democracy Co a consultancy focused on helping people come together to consider complex issues and make lasting decisions. She identifies two changes both of which are structural.
 
And finally, Professor Janette Hartz-Karp would I spoke with in episode 5 of Season 1 about her work in Western Australia designing and managing large deliberative mini-publics. Janette is a Professor in the Sustainability Policy Unit at Curtin University in Western Australia. Janette would like to see much more co-decision making.
 
Thank you for joining me today. In the next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I’ll be talking to a number of people about the relationship between representative democracy and capitalism. I hope you’ll join me then.
Jun 26, 2017
Welcome to this bonus episode in Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 2 is about representative democracy and this episode is about the democratic deficit.
 
In episodes 12 and 13 of Season 2 I spoke to a range of academics about the democratic deficit arising from declining levels of trust and structural aspects of our current system of representative democracy.
 
Today I talk with Professor Pippa Norris about the democratic deficit arising from the gap between people’s expectations of democracy and their perception of its performance. 
 
Pippa is the Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Harvard University where she has taught for two decades. She is also ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. She is a political scientist focusing on democracy and development, public opinion and elections, political communications, and gender politics. She directs The Electoral Integrity Project, a multimillion dollar six-year research project with a team based at Sydney and Harvard.
 
She has published almost forty books, two of which are particularly relevant to my discussion with her today Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Governance, published in 1999 and Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited, published in 2011. She continues to work in this area and she is currently writing a new book Democratic Deficits: Rising Aspirations, Negative News or Failing Performance?.
 
Thank you for joining me for this bonus episode. I will be talking to Pippa again in Season 3 about The Electoral Integrity Project. 
Jun 19, 2017
In Episode 14 of Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I’m talking with Quinton Mayne, Associate Professor of Public Policy in the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation in the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Quinton received his Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University. His dissertation, entitled The Satisfied Citizen: Participation, Influence, and Public Perceptions of Democratic Performance, won the American Political Science Association's 2011 Ernst B. Haas Best Dissertation Award in European Politics as well as the 2011 Best Dissertation Award in Urban Politics. Mayne's research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of comparative and urban politics. He is particularly interested in how the design and reform of democratic political institutions affect how citizens think and act politically.
 
I first came across Quinton early in my own PhD studies, finding his dissertation online and being very taken with the idea that satisfaction with democracy could be demonstrably increased by devolving power and authority to local government. In this episode Quinton talks about States of Satisfaction a book he is writing based on his PhD research as well as other research he is undertaking with Associate Professor Armen Hakhverdian looking at the impact of ideological congruence on citizen satisfaction and with Professor Brigitte Geißel to develop an approach for including citizens in the evaluation of democratic quality. 
 
Thank you for joining me today. The next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast will be the third episode in the ‘One change to democracy’ series where you’ll hear from a range of my guests answering the question ‘if you could change one thing about democracy what would it be?’ I hope you’ll join me then.
Jun 13, 2017
Welcome to Episode 13 of Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. In today’s episode, we are talking at the democratic deficit again, this time focusing more on structural aspects of democracy.
 
First up I talk to Professor Nadia Urbinati. Nadia is a Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies at Columbia University. She is a political theorist who specialises in modern and contemporary political thought and the democratic and anti-democratic traditions.  Nadia has written extensively on democracy including two books: Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy, Democracy Disfigured, and Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government
 
I first spoke to Nadia in episode 2 of Season 2 of the podcast where she spoke about the origins and components of representative democracy. Today Nadia talks about the democracy deficit as well as her book Democracy Disfigured, where she identifies three types of democratic disfigurement: the unpolitical, the populist and the plebiscitarian.
 
My second guest is Emeritus Professor Barry Hindess. Barry is Emeritus Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. Like many senior academics he has published more than he cares to remember, including Discourses of Power: from Hobbes to Foucault, Governing Australia: studies in contemporary rationalities of government (with Mitchell Dean), Corruption and Democracy in Australia, Us and them: elites and anti-elitism in Australia (with Marian Sawer)and papers on neo-liberalism, liberalism and empire and the temporalizing of difference.
 
I came across Barry’s 2002 paper Deficit by Design early in my PhD studies and it was my introduction to the idea that the structure of representative democracy was itself one of the key limitations for the system of democracy. Barry’s argument is "that the problem of democratic deficit is in fact the normal condition of the institutions of representative government… [concluding that] democratic deficit is an integral part of its design.” Barry is now retired so I am very grateful that he made the time to talk with me for this episode.
 
 
My third guest is Professor Wolfgang Merkel, who is the Director of the Research Unit: Democracy and Democratization at the WZB Social Science Research Centre Berlin, as well as heading up the Centre for Global Constitutionalism and a number of other projects. He has written widely on democracy, democratisation, social democracy and democracy & capitalism to name but a few in academic and non-academic publications. Professor Merkel is a co-project leader of the Democracy Barometer. This project developed an instrument to assess the quality of democracy in 30 established democracies and was the focus of my discussion with Professor Merkel in episode 2. 3
 
My fourth guest is Professor Leonardo Morlino who is a professor of political science and director of the Research Center on Democracies and Democratizations at LUISS, Rome. Prof. Morlino is a leading specialist in comparative politics with expertise on Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and the phenomenon of democratization. Professor Morlino has been part of a few other episodes -  episode 2.3 explaining his analytical approach to evaluating democracy, episode 2.12 about trust and the democratic deficit and he will be on a future episode talking about the relationship between representative democracy and capitalism.
 
My fifth guest is Dr Roslyn Fuller, a Canadian-Irish academic and columnist, specialising in public international law, and the impact of technological innovation on democracy. Her latest book Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost Its Purpose explores the flaws of representative democracy and how they could be addressed through the application of ancient Athenian principles of demokratia (people power). Her work has appeared, among others, in OpenDemocracyThe NationThe Toronto Star, Salon and The Irish Times, as well as in many scholarly journals. She is currently a Research Associate at Waterford Institute of Technology and founding member of the Solonian Democracy Institute.
 
Roslyn was also my guest in episode 2.2 talking about her research on democracy in ancient Athens and how we might apply Athenian direct today. Like Nadia Urbinati, Roslyn is concerned about the impact of money on democracy. 
 
And finally, we hear from Associate Professor Ben Isakhan who is Associate Professor of Politics and Policy Studies and Founding Director of POLIS, a research network for Politics and International Relations in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization at Deakin University, Australia. He is also Adjunct Senior Research Associate, in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and an Associate of the Sydney Democracy Network at the University of Sydney, Australia. Ben is the author of Democracy in Iraq: History, Politics, Discourse and the editor of six books including The Secret History of Democracy, and The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy: From Pre-History to Future Possibilities. Ben was my guest on episode 2. 4 talking about non-Western democracy. Today he talks about the challenges to “brand democracy."
 
 
Thanks for joining me today. In the next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I will be talking to Quinton Mayne, an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University about his research on satisfaction with democracy. I hope you’ll join me then.
Jun 8, 2017
Welcome to Episode 12 of Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. In today’s episode, we are talking at the democratic deficit, focusing on trust and the concept of stealth democracy.
 
First up I talk to Professor Gerry Stoker at his research into trust and democracy as well as the concept of stealth democracy. 
 
Gerry is Professor of Governance within Social Sciences: Politics and International Relations at the University of Southampton. He is also the Centenary Professor of Governance in the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra. Professor Stoker’s main research interests are in governance, democratic politics, local and regional governance, urban politics, public participation and public service reform. He has authored or edited over 20 books and published over 70 refereed articles or chapters in books.
 
My second guest is Professor Mark Warren who I spoke to in episode 2.7 about his problem-based approach to democratic theory. In today's episode, he talks about the lack of trust is at the foundation of democracy.
 
Mark is the Harold and Dorrie Merilees Chair in the Study of Democracy in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia where he established the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions. His current research interests fall within the field of democratic theory. He is especially interested in new forms of citizen participation, new forms of democratic representation, the relationship between civil society and democratic governance, and the corruption of democratic relationships.
 
And finally, I talk with Professor Leonardo Morlino about trust in democracy and the possibility of global democracy. Professor Morlino was part of episode 2.3 explaining his analytical approach to evaluating democracy. 
 
Leonardo is a professor of political science and director of the Research Center on Democracies and Democratizations at LUISS, Rome. Prof. Morlino is a leading specialist in comparative politics with expertise on Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and the phenomenon of democratization. 
 
 
Thanks for joining me today. In the next episode of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I will continue to look at the democratic deficit, this time from a structural angle. I hope you’ll join me then.
Jun 1, 2017
 
I ask all of my guests two questions: 
  1. what for them is the essence of a real democracy? and 
  2. if they could change one thing about our system of democracy what would it be?
In episode 1.9 we heard from a number of the guests I interviewed in Season 1 (about deliberative mini-publics) on their view of the essence of a real democracy. And in episode 2. 5 we heard a range of ideas for ‘one change to democracy’. Today is another episode where guests share their idea for that one change (sometimes two) to our system of democracy. 
 
I’ve found the answers people have given to this question fascinating. As I mentioned last time, sometimes people want changes that directly relate to their area of interest and other things they identify an important change in a completely different part of our democratic system. 
 
First up we hear from Peter MacLeod from MASS LBP in Toronto Canada. I interviewed Peter in episode 1.6 about MASS LBP’s work designing and delivering Citizen Reference Panels.
 
Next is Titus Alexander from Democracy Matters in the UK. Titus was part of episode 1.10 where he talked about the facilitation process for the two UK Citizens’ Assemblies. 
 
In episode 1.3 I spoke with the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill about why he supports deliberative mini-publics.
 
Professor Brigitte Geißel from Goethe University in Frankfurt was part of episode 1.18 discussing how she approaches evaluating deliberative mini-publics. 
 
Next is Professor Leonardo Morlino from LUISS in Rome who was part of episode 2.3 talking about how to evaluate representative democracy. 
 
Also in episode 2.3, talking about how to evaluate representative democracy was Professor Wolfgang Merkel from WZB in Berlin.
 
Next is Zelalem Sirna from Ethiopia who is a PhD student in Portugal. Zelalem was part of episode 2.4 about non-western democracy.
 
Professor Mark Warren from the University of British Columbia explained his problem-based approach to democratic theory in episode 2.7.
 
Professor Archon Fung from Harvard University spoke about pragmatic democracy in episode 2.8.
 
And finally, Associate Professor Sofia Näsström from Uppsala University in Sweden was my guest on episode 2.9 talking about representation and her upcoming book The Spirit of Democracy.
 
Thank you for joining me today. In the next two episodes of Real Democracy Now! a podcast I’ll taking to a number of people about what isn’t working so well in representative democracy, often referred to as the democratic deficit. I hope you’ll join me then.
May 22, 2017
Welcome to episode 10 of Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Today my guest is Professor John Keane.
 
John is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. He is also the co-founder and director of the Sydney Democracy Network. He is renowned globally for his creative thinking about democracy and is the author of the Life and Death of Democracy as well writing ‘Democracy Field Notes’ for the Conversation.
 
Today I talk with Professor Keane about his book The Life and Death of Democracy and in particular the concept of ‘monitory democracy' which he develops in this book based on over 10 years empirical research into the history and practices of democracy. 
 
Thank you for joining me today. In next week’s episode you’ll be hearing from a range of my guests, answering the question ‘if you could change one thing about democracy what would it be?’ I hope you’ll join me then.
May 14, 2017
Welcome to episode 9 in season 2 of Real Democracy Now! A podcast. 
 
In today’s episode, I’m talking to Associate Professor Sofia Näsström from the Department of Government, at the Uppsala University in Sweden. Sofia works in the field of political theory, with a particular focus on issues related to democracy, constituent power, the people, the right to have rights, representation, freedom and precarity. She is currently working on a monograph entitled The Spirit of Democracy: Thinking Democracy beyond the Nation-State.
 
Sofia is a democratic theorist and I talk with her about who is being represented in representative democracies, the difference between democratic and non-democratic representation and her work identifying the spirit of democracy.
 
Sofia will also be part of a later episode considering the relationship between democracy and capitalism. In next week’s episode, I will be move from considering theory by taking an ‘empirical turn’ with Professor John Keane talking his work on monitory democracy. I hope you’ll join me then.
May 7, 2017

Today I'm speaking with Professor Archon Fung. Professor Fung is the Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

His research explores policies, practices, and institutional designs that deepen the quality of democratic governance. He focuses upon public participation, deliberation, and transparency. He co-directs the Transparency Policy Project and leads democratic governance programs of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School. 
 
I talk to Professor Fung about the concept of ‘pragmatic democracy’ which he describes as being focused on outcomes and then looking at different approaches to democracy to determine which ones will get us closer to those outcomes. In some ways, this approach is similar to the problem-based approach described by Professor Warren in the last episode. He also expands on his article Our desperate need to save US democracy from ourselves from December 2016.
 
We’ll be hearing from Professor Fung later in this season when I pull together different perspectives on democracy and capitalism, as well as in Season 4 Between Election Democracy where his work on empowered participation is particularly relevant. 
 
In next week’s episode, I speak with Associate Professor Sofia Nasstrom about her theoretical work developing the concept of ‘the spirit of democracy’. I hope you’ll join me then.
Apr 30, 2017
Today I’m speaking with Professor Mark Warren. Mark is the Harold and Dorrie Merilees Chair in the Study of Democracy in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia where he established the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions.
 
His current research interests fall within the field of democratic theory. He is especially interested in new forms of citizen participation, new forms of democratic representation, the relationship between civil society and democratic governance, and the corruption of democratic relationships. I’m talking with Mark about, amongst other things, his latest paper entitled A Problem-Based Approach to Democratic Theory.
 
In this paper, Mark proposes that we focus on a democratic system which delivers three functions:
  1. empowered inclusion
  2. collective will formation and
  3. the ability to make collective decisions.

He notes that different democratic practices are better at delivering some of these than others and so we should be looking a mix of practices to complement each other and deliver all three functions. He proposes supplementing and layering innovations on top of electoral democracy to create stronger democracies.

Thank you for joining me today. In next week’s episode, I will be talking to Professor Archon Fung about pragmatic democracy and how we might save democracy from ourselves. I hope you’ll join me then.
Apr 23, 2017
Today I’m talking with  Assistant Professor Jean-Paul Gagnon from the University of Canberra. Jean-Paul is a philosopher of democracy specialising in democratic theory.
 
Jean-Paul's research into democracy has three areas of focus. The first, which I am talking with him about today, is an ongoing empirical effort to catalogue democracy’s adjectives and to inquire about what knowing these adjectives may come to mean or be used for. The second is to continue contributing to the theory of non-human democracy by trying to draw lessons for human democracies from the practices of non-human others. The third is to contribute to globalising the history of democracy from a democratic theory perspective. 
 
In later seasons of the podcast, I’ll be looking more closely at different adjectives and democracy, in particular, those adjectives which aim to describe or prescribe what might be considered better or improved forms of democracy. 
 
In the meantime Season 2 is focused on representative democracy and next week I speak to Professor Mark Warren about his work developing an alternative to different models of democracy. Mark has developed a concept of ‘problem-based democracy’ where his focus is on the basic functions a democracy needs to fulfil. He sees this approach as a way to ‘expand our democratic imagination.’ I hope you’ll join me then.
Apr 17, 2017
I ask all of my guests two questions: 
  1. what for them is the essence of a real democracy? and 
  2. if they could change one thing about our system of democracy what would it be?
In episode 1.9 we heard from a number of the guests I interviewed in Season 1 (about deliberative mini-publics) on their view of the essence of a real democracy. Today we hear from guests from Season 1 and 2 on the one change they would make to our system of democracy. 
 
I’ve found the answers people have given to this question fascinating. Sometimes people want changes that directly relate to their area of interest and other things they identify an important change in a completely different part of our democratic system. 
 
In this episode, we hear from
  • Adam Cronkright from Democracy in Practice. I interviewed Adam in episode 1.12 about the work of Democracy in Practice in schools in Bolivia.
  • Associate Professor Caroline Lee. Caroline was part of episode 1.19 where we considered different critiques of deliberative mini-publics.
  • Associate Professor Daniel Pemstein was part of episode 2.3 about his work on the Varieties of Democracy Project and the Unified Democracy Scores.
  • Professor Carson was my first guest in episode 1.1 where she explained the basics about deliberative mini-publics.
  • Professor Graham Smith who has been part of a couple of episodes now - episode 1.8 where he talked about the UK Citizens’ Assemblies and episode1.18 where he outlined his approach to evaluating deliberative mini-publics.
  • Professor Cristina La Font was also part of episode 1.19 where she explained her critique about some uses of deliberative mini-publics.
  • Professor Paul Cartledge was our first guest in Season 2 where he took us through a potted history of Ancient Greek democracy. and
  • Associate Professor Genevieve Fuji Johnson was one of the guests on episode 1.19 critiquing deliberative mini-publics.
In next week’s episode, I speak with Jean-Paul Gagnon about his work on ‘democracy with adjectives’. So far Jean-Paul has identified over 1400 adjectives used to describe democracy. He also tells us about a virtual ‘city of democracy’ he is developing based on this work. I hope you’ll join me then.
Apr 10, 2017
Welcome to episode 4 of Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! A podcast. Today’s episode is about non-Western democracy. I’d like to thank David Schecter for bringing this area of democratic thinking and practice to my attention and for introducing me to my two guests: Associate Professor Benjamin Isakhan and PhD scholar Zelalem Sirna from Ethiopia. Both guests highlight the Eurocentric nature of much of the discourse on democracy and introduce us to some non-western examples of democratic practice.
 
Benjamin Isakhan is Associate Professor of Politics and Policy Studies and Founding Director of POLIS, a research network for Politics and International Relations in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization at Deakin University, Australia. He is also Adjunct Senior Research Associate, in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and an Associate of the Sydney Democracy Network at the University of Sydney, Australia. Ben is the author of Democracy in Iraq: History, Politics, Discourse (Routledge, 2012 HB, 2016 PB) and the editor of 6 books  including The Secret History of Democracy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011 HB, 2012 PB – translated into Japanese 2012, and Arabic 2014), and The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy: From Pre-History to Future Possibilities (Edinburgh University Press & Oxford University Press, 2012 HB, 2015 PB). He is a leading expert and regular commentator on Middle Eastern Politics, Democracy and Democratization across the Middle East, and Heritage Destruction in the Middle East. 
 
Zelalem Sirna is a PhD scholar at the University of Coimbra in Portugal in the programme of Democracy in 21sy Century.  He earned his LL.B degree in law from the Haramaya University Ethiopia and his MPhil in Indigenous Studies from University of Tromso, Norway.  For his Masters, he undertook a comparative study of Gadaa, the traditional system of governance in Ethiopia and liberal democracy. For his Ph, he is looking at deliberative democracy, deliberative systems and the Gadaa system. As a sociology-legal researcher, is main works are focused on normative pluralism and the challenges it poses in 21st century. 
 
The next episode will consider what my guests think is the one change they would like to see in our system of democracy. I ask all of my guests the same two questions:
  1. what for you is the essence of a real democracy and
  2. if you could change one thing about our current system of democracy what would it be.

I’d love to hear your answers to these two questions and include your perspectives in future episodes. You can send your perspectives to me by email to essence@realdemocracynow.com.au or via Twitter or Facebook. 

Apr 2, 2017
Thank you for joining me in the third episode of Season 2 of Real Democracy Now! A podcast. Season 2 is looking at representative democracy and today I am talking with three academics who take different approaches to evaluating representative democracy. These three approaches are by no means the only ones, in fact there are many indexes and evaluation frameworks in existence. Which is why Dan Pemstein with his colleagues Stephen Meserve and James Melton created the United Democracy Scores to integrate a number of these into one measure. 
 
First up, I speak to Professor Leonardo Morlino who is a professor of political science and director of the Research Center on Democracies and Democratizations at LUISS, Rome. Prof. Morlino is a leading specialist in comparative politics with expertise on Southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece), Eastern Europe, and the phenomenon of democratization. He is the author of several books and more than 200 journal essays and book chapters published in English, French, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Chinese, Mongolian, and Japanese. In 2015 -16 he has been conducting research on how the economic crisis affected South European democracies and on the economic and fiscal choices of democracies in the same area within an EU Horizon 2020 grant. 

Professor Morlino talks to us about the analytical tool he has developed to allow comparison of democracies.

Next, I talk with Professor Wolfgang Merkel who is the Director of the Research Unit: Democracy and Democratization at the WZB Social Science Research Centre Berlin, as well as heading up the Centre for Global Constitutionalism and a number of other projects. He has written widely on democracy, democratisation, social democracy and democracy & capitalism to name but a few in academic and non-academic publications. Professor Merkel is a co-project leader of the Democracy Barometer. This project developed an instrument to assess the quality of democracy in 30 established democracies and is the focus of my discussion with Professor Merkel today.
 
Finally, I spoke with Daniel Pemstein. Dan is an assistant professor of political science at North Dakota State University. He is a methodologist who specialises in measurement and builds statistical tools to answer substantive questions in comparative legislative studies and political economy. He is involved in a number of statistical projects, including two I’ll be talking to him about today: the Varieties of Democracy Project and the Unified Democracy Scores
 
Thanks for joining me today. We’ll be hearing from Professors Morlino and Merkel again later in Season 2 when we look at the challenges facing democracy and the relationship between democracy and capitalism. Next week’s episode covers a topic mentioned today, that is ‘non-Western democracy’. I’ll be speaking to Associate Professor Benjamin Isakhan about democracy in the Middle East and Zelalem Sirna about Ethiopian democracy. I hope you’ll join me then. 
Mar 26, 2017
In today’s episode, I’m talking with Dr Roslyn Fuller and Professor Nadia Urbinati. 

Dr Roslyn Fuller (dipl. jur./erstes Staatsexamen, Goettingen; PhD, Trinity College Dublin) is a Canadian-Irish academic and columnist, specializing in public international law, and the impact of technological innovation on democracy. Her latest book Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost Its Purpose explores the flaws of representative democracy and how they could be addressed through the application of ancient Athenian principles of demokratia (people power). Her work has appeared, among others, in OpenDemocracyThe NationThe Toronto StarSalon and The Irish Timesas well as in many scholarly journalsShe is currently a Research Associate at Waterford Institute of Technology and founding member of the Solonian Democracy Institute.

Like Professor Cartledge in episode 1 Roslyn is interested in what we can learn from the democracy of ancient Athens and like him, she sees technology as providing a way to scale up direct democracy.
 
Nadia Urbinati is a Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies at Columbia University. She is a political theorist who specializes in modern and contemporary political thought and the democratic and anti-democratic traditions.  Nadia has written extensively on democracy including two books: Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy, Democracy Disfigured , and Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government
 
Nadia takes us through a potted history of representative democracy and explains four key elements of representative democracy and why they are crucial for an operating representative democracy:
  1. Sovereignty of people expressed in electoral appointment of their representatives
  2. Free mandate for representatives
  3. Electoral mechanisms to ensure responsiveness by representatives
  4. Universal franchise. 
Nadia identifies the dual authorities of citizens - our vote and our judgement - which while distinct and different are equally important.
 
If you would like to hear more from Roslyn and Nadia visit my YouTube channel where I have included videos of other presentations and interviews by these guests.
 
In next week’s episode, we will hear about a couple of the many different approaches to evaluating representative democracy: the Varieties of Democracy project, the Democracy Barometer, the Unified Democracy Scores and the work done by the Research Centre on Democracies and Democratizations in Rome. I hope you’ll join me then.
 
Mar 19, 2017

Welcome back to Real Democracy Now! a podcast.This is episode one of Season Two. Season Two is about representative democracy 

Season Two is about representative democracy: its origins, components, how it can be evaluated, different approaches to democracy, the democratic deficit and the relationship between democracy and capitalism.

In Episode 1 of Season 2, I'm talking to Professor Paul Cartledge. Professor Cartledge was the inaugural A G Levants Professor of Greek Culture

Professor Cartledge was the inaugural A G Levants Professor of Greek Culture in the University of Cambridge and President of Clare College, Cambridge. Between 2006 - 2010 he was Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor in History and Theory of Democracy at New York University. Over the course of his career, he has written and edited numerous books on the ancient Greek world, most recently Democracy: a Life. He has served as historical consultant for the BBC television series The Greeks, and for four Channel 4 documentaries, including The Spartans.

If you would like to hear more from Professor Cartledge I've added some videos to the Real Democracy Now! YouTube Channel.

Some other material you may find interesting:

How student activism informed Paul Cartledge's new history of democracy

Ancient Greeks would not recognise our democracy

G1000 in Cambridge

In the next episode, I'll be talking with Professor Nadia Urbinati and Roslyn Fuller about the history of democracy and design. I hope you'll join me then.

Feb 12, 2017

In this episode I speak to three academics who each take a critical perspective on the operation of deliberative mini-publics. Each of them takes issue with a different aspect of the impact or influence that the recommendations coming from deliberative mini-publics have on public policy.

For Associate Professor Genevieve Fuji Johnson the failure of the democratic innovations she studied (which includes deliberative mini-publics and deliberative polling) was that they didn't have any real impact on policy and decision-making.
 
Professor Cristina La Font takes basically the opposite view. For her deliberative mini-publics should not have any impact on policy decisions, rather they should be used to support the broader engagement of citizens.
 
Associate Professor Caroline Lee’s critique is that many democratic innovations, including deliberative mini-publics, appear to allow for influence or impact but the issues they are asked to consider are often heavily circumscribed, and deliberative mini-publics are explicitly denied the opportunity to address the challenges underlying the difficult issues they are faced with.

And Roslyn Fuller provides another perspective suggesting that citizens may change how they approach decision-making within a deliberative mini-public depending on whether they believe their recommendations will be implemented or not.

This is the final episode of Season 1 looking at deliberative mini-publics. If you haven't already listened to episodes 1 - 18 I'd suggest you go back and listen to them all, starting with Professor Carson explaining what deliberative mini-publics are in episode 1.1.

Season 2 will look at the history of democracy, the dominant model of representative democracy, as well as what is working and what isn’t.

Season 2 will commence in mid-March. I hope you'll join me then.

 

Jan 29, 2017

In today's episode, I speak with Professor Graham Smith and Professor Brigitte Geißel about the evaluation frameworks they have each developed to assess the value of democratic innovations. 

I ask each of them how their frameworks apply to deliberative mini-publics and they provide quite different assessments of the value and effectiveness of deliberative mini-publics as democratic innovations.

Professor Smith's framework identifies four democratic goods:

  1. inclusiveness
  2. popular control
  3. considered judgement and
  4. transparency.

Professor Geißel's analytical framework comprises five criteria:

  1. inclusive participation
  2. meaningful participation
  3. legitimacy
  4. effectiveness and
  5. citizen enlightenment.

As you can see, there are some similarities between these frameworks. However, the conclusions each person draws about the value and effectiveness of deliberative mini-publics is quite different.

In next week's episode (the final one for Season 1) I talk to three other academics who take a critical perspective on the operation of deliberative mini-publics:

  • Professor Cristina La Font from Northwestern University in the US,
  • Associate Professor Caroline Lee from Lafayette College in the US and
  • Associate Professor Genevieve Fuji Johnson from Simon Fraser University in Canada.

I hope you'll join me then.

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