On Mini-Publics in Deliberative Democracies: Inefficient Instrument or Arendt’s “Oasis of Freedom”?
According to the standard of legitimacy provided by di erent theorists of deliberative de- mocracy, a collective decision could be de ned as legitimate if it is rendered in accordance with a collective deliberative procedure by citizens who will be subject to this decision. In the beginning of the noughties, deliberationists became more concerned with the implementa- tion of this ideal so that citizens could have more possibilities to take part in deliberative collective decision-making. One of the institutions which were thought to better involve citi- zens in deliberative decision-making and to ensure the legitimacy of outcomes were mini- publics. Mini-publics are deliberative forums composed of lay citizens who communicate about questions of the political agenda. However, using mini-publics can eventually lead to situations when citizens are “bypassed” in the process of collective decision-making. So, in our article, rstly, we will brie y discuss the standard of legitimacy provided by the theorists of deliberative democracy and the concept of mini-publics. Secondly, we will analyze how us- ing mini-publics can lead to the exclusion of citizens from the process of collective deliberative decision-making. Finally, we will consider how Arendt’s theory of councils can be used to transform the concept of mini-publics so these institutions will lead not to a “bypassing” of the people, but to the more inclusive process of collective deliberative decision-making.