The Citizens’ Assembly was created to engage citizens on issues regarding the country's future on an inclusive, informed and respectful basis. Assembly meetings will be held over six weekends from 25/26 October 2019 to 24/26 April 2020 in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Problems and Purpose
The Government of Scotland set up a Citizens’ Assembly to deliberate on the future of Scotland, its relationship to the UK, and the main challenges for Scotland’s future. The task of the Citizens’ Assembly was to consider three broad issues:
- What kind of country Scotland should be?
- How can Scotland best overcome challenges, including those arising from Brexit?
- What further work is required to enable people to make informed choices about the future of Scotland?
The work of the Citizens’ Assembly is to link to other constitutional issues that the Scottish government led by the Scottish National Party is considering. These include the establishment of a legal framework providing the option for a referendum and cross-party talks to identify areas of agreement on constitutional change.
Background History and Context
The Scottish Regional Government decided in 2019 to set up a Citizens’ Assembly after being inspired by the Irish Constitutional Convention.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The Assembly comprised 100 members of the adult population (aged 16 and over) of Scotland who were randomly selected to participate. They were to be broadly representative of Scotland’s adult population in terms of socio-demographic variables and political attitudes/views. Specific quotas on political attitudes were set up, in direct connection with the topics to be debated by citizens. The relevant attitudes were attitudes towards Scottish independence, the UK’s membership of the EU and Scottish Parliament voting preferences. Elected or appointed representatives (including MSPs, MPs, MEPs, councillors and Members of the House of Lords), the staff of political parties, public appointees and senior public and civil servants and the representatives or officials of relevant advocacy groups were ineligible to be Assembly members. Recruitment was to be undertaken by a skilled and experienced independent organisation over the course of the summer.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Oliver Escobar from the University of Edinburgh said, “there must be further clarity about the task/job given to the assembly, because that determines the evidence, speakers and sessions needed to inform deliberation at various stages of the process. This also requires clarity about how the results will be used — what's the power of the assembly? How to avoid subsequent cherry-picking of the proposals/recommendations? But also how to ensure checks and balances in the way the assembly connects to other parts of our current democratic institutions. All of this is about systemic coherence — the assembly cannot be an island, it needs to be clearly placed in the context of other institutions and how it relates to them. "
Analysis and Lessons Learned
This entry is based on the POLITICIZE dataset. More information can be found at the following links:
- Paulis, Emilien; Pilet, Jean-Benoit; Panel, Sophie; Vittori, Davide; Close, Caroline, 2020, "POLITICIZE Dataset", https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/Z7X6GT, Harvard Dataverse, V1
- Pilet J-B, Paulis E, Panel S.,Vitori D & Close C. 202X The POLITICIZE Dataset: an inventory of Deliberative Mini-Publics (DMPs) in Europe. European Political Science.