Deliberative Democracy – Theory and Practice: The Case of the Belgrade Citizens’ Assembly


  • Ivana Janković University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy



deliberative democracy, citizens’ assembly, public deliberation, democratic legitimacy, political engagement


In this paper, we examine whether it is possible to improve democracy by encouraging ordinary citizens to participate in political decision-making and if participation in deliberative institutions can make citizens more competent decision-makers. By using qualitative data, we analyze the discussion from the Belgrade citizens’ assembly (CA) focused on the topic of expanding the pedestrian zone in the city center. The CA was organized in Serbia for the first time, as part of a research project aimed at promoting and advancing innovative democratic practices in the Western Balkans. The goal was to encourage the involvement of citizens in discussions of public interest. Our hypothesis was that, through the process of participation and deliberation in CA, ordinary citizens can make reasonable and informed choices, increase their knowledge of the issue discussed, and become more motivated to participate in political decision-making on the local level. Our qualitative content analysis suggests that deliberation had a positive impact on participants’ knowledge of the chosen topic of the assembly. It also shows that citizens used exhaustive explanations rather than brief statements, could differentiate the good arguments from the bad, and more often appealed to general rather than private interests. Participants in the assembly reported a significant increase in interest in political decision-making that affects their lives, as well as a sense of being informed about politics. Finally, we wanted to draw attention to the challenges and open questions that remain, namely those that concern the impact of a deliberative body on political decision-making in the real world. 


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How to Cite

Janković, I. (2022) “Deliberative Democracy – Theory and Practice: The Case of the Belgrade Citizens’ Assembly”, Filozofija i društvo/Philosophy and Society. Belgrade, Serbia, 33(1). doi: 10.2298/FID2201026J.