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A quick update from Brussels: criteria for success

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About the author

A freelance writer and editor based in London, J Clive Matthews is Managing Editor of openDemocracy's EU and deliberative democracy blog, dLiberation.

In the real world he has co-authored two books and edited numerous others (ranging in subject-matter from movies to modern Russian politics), been acting editor on a glossy history and travel magazine, editorial consultant for a big name women's magazine, a freelance news editor for AOL UK, worked in both the House of Commons and the European Commission, and contributed to publications as diverse as Starburst and the Times Literary Supplement.

Best known as Nosemonkey online, he has been blogging about British and European politics daily for several years both at his own blog and sites like The Sharpener, General Election 2005 (now defunct), AgoraVox, France 24 and the Washington Post / Newsweek's Postglobal, as well as about movies for the BBC, and has been shortlisted for blog awards by the likes of the Guardian, Deutsche Welle International and the Weblog Awards, amongst others.

A small group discussion

Internet access within the European Parliament building has not been as easy to get hold of as you might think, hence the lack of posts over this weekend. Having sat in on small group discussions, spoken to various organisers and participants, and seen more about how the whole thing works, I'll hope to report in full over the next few days, having written up my extensive notes. Liveblogging, however, has sadly proved impossible...

Initial impression? It's certainly an interesting experiment - though I'm not sure if a group of nearly 400 people isn't just too big for this to really work on a practical level. Which creates additional problems - because much smaller than that, the arguments for representativeness (on which more over the next few days) become far, far less convincing.

In the press conference I'm currently sitting in, Professor Fishkin has laid out his three criteria for success:

1) Is it representative?

2) Is it deliberative?

3) Will decision-makers listen to the results?

Fishkin seems hopeful, noting that the participants seem to be representative, that discussions took place throughout the last few days, and noting that both the Bulgarian Prime Minister (a speaker at this afternoon's final plenary meeting) and Jens-Peter Bonde, the Danish MEP, have become proponents of deliberative polling, even though one is very pro-EU, the other somewhat anti-.

He seems happy, but is his satisfaction justified? As the results of the final poll are collated, I'll do my best to number-crunch...


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