Active Citizenship and Sharing Power in Scotland: the Need to Go Beyond Devolution

Kevin Francis

in Active Citizenship

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638666
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671939 | DOI:
Active Citizenship and Sharing Power in Scotland: the Need to Go Beyond Devolution

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Drawing on the perspective of democratic theory, this chapter argues that the prospect of Scottish independence provides a realistic opportunity for radical political innovation. It insists that the hoped-for levels of civic engagement, delivering the fourth principle of power sharing with the people, have not been achieved in Scotland. It also pursues the ideas of popular sovereignty and democratic participation found in the writings of John Stuart Mill and developed by modern theorists of deliberative democracy. The chapter proposes a form of direct political decision-making by citizens akin to that derived from classical Athenian democracy. It also suggests various ways in which bills, after parliamentary deliberation and vote, might be put to randomly selected juries of 10,000 or 20,000 for ‘popular assent’ or rejection. The central idea is that when citizens act as jurors they are trusted to exercise real power on behalf of their fellow citizens; arguably they act above and beyond sectional, party or local interests. In this role, civic duty carries a collective responsibility which transcends partiality and particular identity.

Keywords: Scotland; independence; civic engagement; power sharing; popular sovereignty; democratic participation; John Stuart Mill; deliberative democracy; civic duty

Chapter.  6886 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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