The Peace Institute Forum

"Participatory Democracy: When and Why?"

The Seventh Forum of the Peace Institute conveyed on the 12th March 2002 in Cankarjev Dom.

Contributors to the Forum moderated by dr. Vlasta Jalusic, director of the Peace Instute:

  • Dr Tone Jerovšek, Professor at the Faculty of Law and Senior School of Management in Ljubljana;

  • Dr Danica Simšič, member of Parliament;

  • Matevž Krivic, MSc, jur., former Judge for the Constitutional Court.

The background to the forum:

The role and situation of the referendum in the Slovene constitutional and legal system have been widely discussed since its inception. The majority of refenrendums, or referendum initiatives, have provoked a contention of public opinion at the least, if not a full-blown constitutional and governmental crisis (e.g. the referendum on the election system, the referendum on legislation concerning fertilisation with biomedical help, the referendum on Slovenia’s access to NATO). The issue of controversy is not the need for referendum as a direct form of decision-making on the part of Slovene citizens, but the kinds of referendum and their potential impact on the legislative and executive powers; also, the specific questions appropriate for plebiscitary resolution. Due to recent changes in constitution and discussions generated by the topic of referendum, we have posed the following questions: Is participatory democracy (either referendum or plebisict) truly the most democratic mechanism for decision-making? What are the pros and contras for participatory democracy from elsewhere? When should the mechanisms of participatory democracy be used? What forms of referendum are appropriate for countries the size of Slovenia?