Assembly Plus is what is needed going forward
Written by Peter Osborne
The outcome of a consensual ballot on what form of democracy people wanted for Northern Ireland was a clear win for deliberative democracy – or an Assembly Plus.
That was at Democracy Day in April as part of the Imagine Festival when the 100 or so participants were asked to cast their vote using a consensual decision-making process.
The voting process used was a Modified Borda Count in an effort to find the democratic system preferred by the largest consensus of participants. The Modified Borda Count is recognised as a system that can achieve greater consensus, on sensitive issues especially. The Modified Borda Count has rarely been used in Northern Ireland, or many other places.
The clear winner was deliberative democracy with 93% consensus compared to 78% consensus for a return to an Executive/Assembly-only representative democracy. There was 57% consensus for the third most popular model, a technocracy meaning essentially a return to direct rule with a prominent role for civil servants.
Some people may ask how relevant this is. In many other parts of the world deliberative democracy exists, where civil society in different guises helps deliver significant policy decisions with and for elected representatives.
It makes for better policy.