Transnational Citizen Deliberation

This project evaluates the quality of citizen deliberation in the context of a pan-European deliberative poll, called Europolis. Europolis was carried out in Brussels in late May 2009. Almost 400 EU citizens from all 27 EU-countries were assembled to discuss the topics of third country migration and climate change during three days. Our project engages with the ongoing controversy in the literature whether transnational and cross-cultural deliberation can work and whether ordinary citizens have the requisite abilities to engage in high quality deliberation, i.e., to advance complex arguments with a focus on the common good and to listen to other participants’ arguments with respect. This project represents one of the few attempts to take an informed look at the actual process of deliberation in citizen deliberation and explore what outcomes follow when citizens deliberate with each other. We find that under the supportive conditions of deliberative polling, demanding standards of classic deliberation - such as sophisticated justifications and respectful listening - are far from being utopian standards that only a tiny minority of citizen deliberators can achieve. Surely, not everything was perfect in Europolis: working-class participants from Eastern as well as Southern Europe were less apt to reach the various standards of high-quality deliberation than other participants, raising some concerns about the democratic dimensions of deliberation among citizens with culturally heterogeneous backgrounds. Yet, we did not find any indication that different speaking styles and cultures had an impact on ´influence´: neither did high-skilled deliberators impose their views on other participants nor were they stuck on their positions; they showed an almost identical amount of opinion change than lower-skilled deliberators. Finally, there is also evidence that opinion change in Europolis can be partly attributed to a systematic, justificatory and argument-based component and not to undesired group dynamics (such as group polarization): well-justified arguments affected opinion change, both in absolute and directional ways.


Marlène Gerber, André Bächtiger, Susumu Shikano, Simon Reber and Samuel Rohr (2016). “Deliberative Abilities and Influence in a Transnational Deliberative Poll (EuroPolis).” Forthcoming British Journal of Political Science.

Marlène Gerber, André Bächtiger, Irena Fiket, Marco R. Steenbergen, and Jürg Steiner (2014). “Deliberative and Non-Deliberative Persuasion: Opinion Change in a Pan-European Deliberative Poll (Europolis).” European Union Politics 15: 410–429.

André Bächtiger und Marlène Gerber (2014). “Gentlemanly conversation’ or vigorous contestation? An exploratory analysis of communication modes in a transnational deliberative poll (Europolis)”. In: Grönlund, Kimmo, André Bächtiger and Maija Setälä (2014). Deliberative Minipublics. Colchester: ECPR Press.

Bächtiger, André, Kimmo Grönlund, and Maija Setälä (eds., 2014). Deliberative Mini-Publics. Promises, Practices and Pitfalls. Colchester: ECPR Press.

Dryzek, John, André Bächtiger, and Karolina Milewicz (2011). "Toward a Deliberative Global Citizens’ Assembly." Global Policy 2: 33-42.


"Potential for deliberation among EU citizens" (with Marco R. Steenbergen, Jürg Steiner, and Marlène Gerber). Project sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation, May 2010-April 2013.



Prof. Dr. Andre Baechtiger
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften

Breitscheidstr. 2
70174 Stuttgart

Phone: +49 711 685-81450
Fax: +49 711 685-83432