Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Deliberative Mini-Publics and the European Green Deal in Turbulent Times: The Irish and French Climate Assemblies

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Abstract:  Innovative forms of deliberative democracy are gaining traction in governing responses to climate change in Europe and beyond. Proponents of deliberative democracy have drawn attention to its particular suitability for shaping responses to environmental challenges. Citizen engagement and participation is also a prominent feature of the European Green Deal. This article considers the relationship between turbulence and deliberative democracy in the context of climate transitions, exploring when and how such democratic innovations are likely to generate turbulence in the governance of climate transitions. A framework is developed that focuses on three important sets of characteristics of deliberative mini-publics (DMPs): (a) the nature of their formal mandates and the ways in which climate change is framed as a policy problem; (b) the nature of participation and the degree to which the participants are empowered to shape the deliberative processes in which they participate; and (c) the degree to which DMPs are coupled with relevant policymaking processes. This framework is used to explore two recent and high-profile cases of a particular type of DMP: citizens’ assemblies in Ireland and France. The article contributes to the literatures on turbulent governance and deliberative democracy by reflecting on key dimensions of DMPs from the analytical perspective of turbulent governance.

Keywords:  climate change; deliberative democracy; democratic mini-public; European Green Deal; turbulence



© Diarmuid Torney. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.