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Points for comparison

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.

While we wait for the results of the initial survey of 3,500 Europeans to be released, to enable comparison with the results of the surveys of the 362 participants in the Tomorrow's Europe deliberation itself, perhaps comparisons with other surveys may be of help. The most obvious, of course, is the regular Eurobarometer surveys, polling the people of Europe on a country-by-country basis - and conducted by the same polling company, TNS Sofres, as conducted the initial survey for Tomorrow's Europe.

However, while comparisons to past opinion polls of EU citizens can help us check the representativeness of the participants this time around, part of the argument for Tomorrow's Europe is that the deliberative process enables the participants to come to more informed decisions. As such, perhaps the real point of comparison should be between the participants and those who take the decisions within the EU? Here, our best option appears to be the Compagnia di San Paolo's European Elites Survey - a poll of MEPs and senior workers at the European Commission and EU Council.

Let's just take one point for comparison for now - Turkish entry to the EU.

The last Eurobarometer survey (PDF) showed 32% support for Turkish EU entry amonst the old member states (though note this was taken a couple of years ago, and support has supposedly now risen to around the 40% mark, depending on who you believe).

The European Elites Survey (PDF) showed 60% support for Turkish entry amongst workers at the European Commission.

The Tomorrow's Europe poll (PDF) showed 54% in favour in the initial poll of old member state participants in Tomorrow's Europe - dropping to 47% after deliberation.

Significance? Well, it would seem that participants from the old member states were more than usually in favour of Turkish EU entry compared to the people of Europe as a whole.

However, it's still too early to say for certain what this all means - because the pre-deliberation poll was taken on the Friday, as participants arrived.

So, as the first poll of the 362 participants was taken when they had already agreed to take part, already knew roughly what the weekend would entail, had already received their briefing materials, and had likely already done a bit of reading up, did this already increase their favourability towards Turkey? Does the timing of this initial poll of the actual participants mean that the first results are not a true picture of real "before" attitudes?

Until we get the results of the initial survey of 3,500, it will be impossible to say. In the meantime, any help comparing the results we do have to those from the Eurobarometer and European Elites surveys much appreciated...

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