What is it?
A kind of Citizen’s Assembly/Panel that is paired together with Deliberative Polling so that we combine the intense knowledge acquisition and deliberation afforded by small groups of citizen’s panels with the mass participation afforded by public polling.
The process involves pre-polling that helps to identify diverse segments; deliberately forming citizen’s panels that include people who disagree with one another; and tasking them with arriving at a synthesised position they can consent to within the group. Finally, another round of public polling on these new ideas and positions will be conducted to see if they are able to generate greater consensus.
This process will tap on the wisdom of crowds, and also the intelligence and experience of experts. Policymakers will have an opportunity to educate citizens on the key tensions of the policy domain, and academics can help fill in critical knowledge gaps that citizens require to help them design or deliberate on policy positions that can generate the greatest consensus.
There are certain issues that have persistently divided views amongst different interest groups or the general population at large. This is an opportunity to engage with citizens to see if those who disagree with one another can find meaningful common ground through the result of their own design or deliberation.
This experiment seeks to understand the conditions under which common citizens can engage productively with public policy and whether such a process can redress overshadowing by civil society organizations or interest groups that have more resources, networks and knowledge.
Such a citizen engagement project is aligned with Forward Singapore’s stated intention to bring Singaporeans together, examine our values and aspirations, and build consensus on what should be prioritised, and what each of us is willing to contribute.
1. Set up a Steering Committee so that Policy Owners can Sponsor a Policy Deliberation Exercise
2. Create the Scope and Framing of the Deliberation
3. Preliminary Polling to Identify Key Divided Segments
4. Formation of Deliberately Diverse Citizen’s Panels
- Each panel formed will intentionally include those who do not share the same views. The intention is to disassemble ‘echo chambers’ and reassemble citizens into a panel made up of those who have a wide spectrum of views that diverge from theirs.
5. Small Group Deliberation, Research and Synthesis
- The citizen panels will have access to policymakers, researchers and experts who can help to provide the basic background information to educate them on the key issues and critical tensions.
- Each panel should identify key knowledge gaps they think will inform their deliberation and decisions. Then knowledge partners (professionals, academics, and even students) can be roped in to fill in any additional information and knowledge gaps, which may be local or international.
- Facilitators will support each panel to attempt to find a synthesis across the policy divide or an idea that resolves a critical tension.
6. Post-Deliberation Polling on Synthesised Positions/Ideas
- The synthesised position will be polled again to see if there is more widespread consensus on these newly developed ideas or synthesised positions that capture the diversity of views.
- The suggestions that create the most consensus can be informative for policymakers to decide how to move on a divisive policy issue.
possibility of Partnership
To explore and co-develop with relevant government agencies interested to host a policy deliberation exercise that uses polling and citizen panels.
Tote Board may fund such an initiative to test experiments that help understand the future of civic engagement in Singapore, with relevant government agencies and stakeholders.