This article analyses deliberative direct democracy. It asks whether ordinary citizens are willing and able to deliberate and whether their participation in policy-making has the intended effect. We apply Bayesian logistic analyses to 500 speeches held between 2000 and 2012 at the Glarus citizen assembly. We find that every second government proposal is challenged through deliberation, with success to be higher if well argued for. However, politicians are both better at deliberating and more successful than ordinary citizens. Thus, citizens still need the political elite to do their bidding – or at least not to argue well when opposing them.
This article investigates gender differences in participation at the citizen assembly of Glarus, Switzerland. We use original survey data collected among 800 citizens. We find significant gender gaps both for attending and holding a speech at the assembly. Lower female attendance is particularly pronounced among older cohorts and can largely be explained by gender differences in political interest, knowledge and efficacy. In contrast, the gender gap in speaking is substantial regardless of age and cannot be reduced to factors that typically shape participation. Hence, gender differences are disappearing in voting but persist in more public, interactive forms of political engagement.