The Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK comprised 67 members of the public, who were carefully recruited to be representative of the adult population of the UK. They met online over six weekends in the final three months of 2021 to examine the overarching question, ‘How should democracy in the UK work?’. Within that, they focused on three aspects of the democratic system that have proved particularly controversial in recent years: the balance of power between government and parliament; the roles of the general public in democratic processes; and ways of upholding basic rights and standards. Find out more about the workings of the Citizens’ Assembly here.
The Report of the Citizens’ Assembly, available through the link above, sets out the members’ conclusions. These take the following forms:
- 16 core principles that members thought would characterise a good democracy in the UK
- 8 resolutions summing up members’ conclusions in the three areas of democracy that they focused on
- 51 specific recommendations fleshing out the resolutions in detail
- 20 overarching statements summing up members’ feelings about how democracy is working in the UK today.
In these conclusions, Assembly members particularly highlighted the following points:
- They want their elected representatives to act honestly and selflessly. They believe that better regulation is needed to achieve this.
- They do not want power to be concentrated too far within the executive. They think that parliament should play a stronger role in scrutinising the actions of government. They want the courts to be able to enforce human rights and basic democratic standards.
- They want better mechanisms for the voice of the public to be heard. They make recommendations to build closer relations between people and their representatives, strengthen petitions, and improve the conduct of referendums. They want deliberative processes such as citizens’ assemblies to play a greater role, though without usurping the place of elected representatives.
To mark the launch of the Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK, the Constitution Unit and Involve partnered with Golden Frog Films to make a short film about the Assembly. The film explores the Assembly, its recommendations, and members’ experiences.