Deliberative Democracy and Electoral Reform in South Africa: A Campus Experiment

TitleDeliberative Democracy and Electoral Reform in South Africa: A Campus Experiment
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsBogaards, M.
Journal titlePolitikon

In the transition to an inclusive democracy, South Africa changed its electoral system for the national parliament to proportional representation. Ever since, there have been suggestions of electoral reform. So far, the debate has rarely involved ordinary citizens. This article presents the results of a Deliberation Day on Electoral Reform in South Africa at the University of Cape Town. This campus experiment in deliberative democracy was part of a project-based course for MA students in Political Studies. The outcomes are as predicted in the literature: the knowledge of the 47 student participants increased and their opinions became more coherent. The student participants were highly critical about South Africa’s political system and demanded more accountability through the electoral system. The most striking, and encouraging, outcome was the unanimous support for more deliberation on campus. The findings presented here suggest the potential of deliberative democracy for organising the national debate on electoral reform as well as for communication inside South Africa’s universities.

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Department of Political Science
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