Advancing deliberative reform in a parliamentary system: prospects for recursive representation

Nardine Alnemr, Selen A. Ercan, Nick Vlahos, John Dryzek, Andrew Leigh, Michael Neblo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent theories of democratic representation push beyond ‘minimalist’ notions that only rely on periodic elections to connect officials and constituents. For example, Jane Mansbridge (2019) calls for ‘recursive representation’, which seeks ongoing, two-way interaction between representatives and their constituents. Given the scale and complexity of modern representative democracies, how can such ambitious proposals be translated into practice? We analyze two Deliberative Town Halls (DTHs) convened with a Federal Member of Australian Parliament in 2020 to discuss a complex issue, mitochondrial donation, ahead of a parliamentary debate and conscience vote on this issue. Drawing on interviews with participants, we argue that democratic innovations such as DTHs can contribute to realizing recursive representation when three criteria are met: authenticity, inclusion, and impact. We discuss the significance of each criterion and the role of DTHs in advancing recursive representation in a parliamentary system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Political Science Review
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2023


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