Published on October 24, 2011

North-Westward ho! Oregon embeds public participation in lawmaking

By Janice Thomson

Janice Thomson was Involve's EU Public Engagement Advisor. She left in January 2012. Her work focussed on understanding and enhancing public participation at European Union level. Please email info@involve.org.uk with comments or questions on Involve's work on EU Engagement.

Recent developments in the state of Oregon demonstrate that there are ways of embedding deliberative, direct democracy into lawmaking. Oregon has long been a pioneer of direct democracy with its 100-year old Citizens’ Initiative which allows citizens to propose a law and put it to popular vote. Recently, however, the legitimacy of the Citizens’ Initiative has been threatened by vested interests and partisan divides. In order to overcome this, Oregon has introduced a citizens jury-style stage to the process. Crucially, participation is embedded into state lawmaking. The example provides some lessons for others looking to do the same.

Read Director Simon Burall and Associate Janice Thomson’s article
in Open Democracy:

E-petitions aren’t enough – Britain should learn from the ‘Oregon model’ of citizen juries

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