Tapping the savvy of public juries – a glint of democracy’s rebirth?


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Eventbrite event: London screening of short documentary When Citizens Assemble, panel discussion and Q+A

Panel - additional members to be announced:

Patrick Chalmers – director and producer of When Citizens Assemble, pilot episode for the All Hands On documentary series on democracy. Journalist and author of Fraudcast News.

Ireland’s efforts to break a decades-old political deadlock over its de facto abortion ban inspired a bold political response. Its politicians agreed to create a Citizens’ Assembly to tackle the issue.

A random pick of Irish people deliberated on the highly contentious question. One hundred people took part, balanced for age, gender, social class and region. They heard from experts, campaigners and women directly affected by the ban. Their conclusion, reached in April 2017, recommended radical liberalisation.

The assembly’s work helped bring on a national referendum on abortion in 2018, when Irish voters will have a chance to change abortion laws.

Ireland’s approach was similar to the one it used on same-sex marriage, which voters approved in 2015. Both mark breakthrough moments for all those wondering how politics could be done differently. Rather than leaving decisions to elected politicians, The Irish showed how public wisdom can help cut through controversy.

At a time of deep dysfunction in our electorally driven politics - what issue wouldn’t lend itself to a citizens’ assembly approach? Where might things be on Brexit, on Scottish independence, poverty and other social justice questions given access to public panels addressing such questions?

When Citizens Assemble is the first in the global, nine-film series All Hands On. The series focus will be the state of world democracy and real-life efforts to radically improve it using the ages-old device of public juries.

When Citizens Assemble was made possible thanks to help from founding partners the newDemocracy Foundation and Common Weal, who gave support in cash and kind.

The event will be kindly hosted by Newspeak House, the London College of Political Technologists.