Comments

This large-scale consultation appears to have been a highly innovative and successful democratic innovation, and provides inspiration and hope for similar future endeavours in other countries. 

The Assembly's methodology appears to have been well considered in order to encourage quality deliberation and representation of opinions and preferences. Mechanisms that did this include: the random selection of a representative cross-section of the population, the division of the sample into groups for deliberation moderated by a facilitator, and the aggregation of preferences.

The case-study does an excellent job of analysing the potential weaknesses of the Assembly, making it quite difficult to critique it any further. The best I can hope to do is offer some sort of suggestion as to how it might have been improved could we go back in time, or, alternatively, should another assembly take place in another country.

I feel that the Assembly's deliberation might have been improved had the politicians of the government at the time been included in the assembly, perhaps selected randomly, as the citizen participants were. I feel that the experience and expertise of the politicians might have been useful in expanding the participants' perspectives and in perhaps creating a broader dialogue on what the values of Icelandic society have traditionally been. Though politicians at the time might not have been held in high-esteem, this would have potentially allowed citizens to understand the circumstances of politicians better, and for politicians to understand the perspectives of those that they represent better in turn. Although direct feedback from citizens to representatives is better than no feedback at all, there is something invaluable in communicating face-to-face with another individual that is found lacking in other forms of communication. This is the primary improvement that I would be able to suggest. Overall, however, this endeavour is highly commendable, and well considered.

On a slight tangent, a potential radical addition to Western democracies in the future, inspired by this, might be the inclusion of a permanent, regularly-rotating, randomly-selected citizen parliament to act as a check to the parliament of elected politicians, and potentially as a replacement to the upper-house. Any comments on this idea would be welcome.