How exclusive is assembly democracy? Citizens assembly and ballot participation compared

Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle; Dermont, Clau (2016). How exclusive is assembly democracy? Citizens assembly and ballot participation compared. Swiss political science review / Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 22(1), pp. 95-122. Wiley 10.1111/spsr.12184

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This paper analyses the difference between two specific forms of citizens’ involvements, namely whether a vote is cast by ballot or in a citizens’ assembly in which people gather in town halls to decide legislative questions in a deliberative manner. We show both theoretically and empirically how citizens’ assemblies and decisions at the ballot box substantially differ not only in terms of their underlying model of democracy, but also in their structural conditions and, thus, with respect to the social inequality of participation. We test our hypotheses in a Bayesian multilevel framework using real participation data collected from 15 political decisions made in a Swiss commune. Our results show that citizens’ assemblies are not only characterised by lower participation rates, but also by a particular composition of the electorate. While citizens’ assemblies are more equal regarding income groups, ballots favour a more equitable participation in terms of gender and age.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Stadelmann, Isabelle and Dermont, Clau


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Isabelle Stadelmann

Date Deposited:

09 May 2016 13:53

Last Modified:

10 May 2016 22:02

Publisher DOI:





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