To address the chal­lenges rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­ra­cies have been fac­ing, new forms of polit­i­cal engage­ment – focussed on cit­i­zen engage­ment, par­tic­i­pa­tion, and delib­er­a­tion between elec­tions – have been devel­oped and imple­ment­ed in var­i­ous con­texts. While such demo­c­ra­t­ic inno­va­tion has gar­nered much atten­tion from democ­ra­cy activists and researchers, many polit­i­cal deci­sion-mak­ers are not con­vinced by calls to embrace polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion out­side of tra­di­tion­al elec­toral pol­i­tics and con­ven­tion­al forms of con­sul­ta­tion. But why is that? Are they sim­ply wor­ried about a loss of pow­er? Or do they have spe­cif­ic con­cerns that advo­cates should under­stand better?

This report pro­vides some answers to those ques­tions. Syn­the­sis­ing the insights from in-depth inter­views with 55 politi­cians, civ­il ser­vants and pol­i­cy pro­fes­sion­als in Ger­many, France, and the UK, the report explores what such actors’ scep­ti­cism of demo­c­ra­t­ic inno­va­tion is real­ly ground­ed in. Using those find­ings, it offers key rec­om­men­da­tions for how those advo­cat­ing for demo­c­ra­t­ic inno­va­tion might bet­ter engage in con­struc­tive dia­logue with those inside the struc­tures of rep­re­sen­ta­tive democracy.

This project was coor­di­nat­ed by d|part (Neele Eil­ers and Jan Eich­horn) and car­ried out in coop­er­a­tion with Daniel Kenealy (Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh) and François-Xavier Demoures (Grand-Réc­it). The project was sup­port­ed by a grant from the Open Soci­ety Foun­da­tion gGmbH in coop­er­a­tion with the Open Soci­ety Foundations.