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Pragmatic Democracy: participation, representation, and political experimentalism

Thamy Pogrebinschi
WZB Berlin Social Science Center
Thamy Pogrebinschi
WZB Berlin Social Science Center
Open Panel

Abstract

Are participatory innovations able to strengthen representative democracy? This paper addresses this question, relying on an analysis of the national public policy conferences, arguably the largest participatory experience currently being held in Brazil. Summoned by the Executive branch, and organized along with civil society, the deliberations held in the policy conferences have been proving themselves successful enough to affect the policies drafted by the administration, to influence the legislation enacted by the Congress, and to broaden the political inclusion of minority groups. This paper focus on empirical evidence that support those claims, while arguing that Brazil’s political experimentalism gives rise to a pragmatic model of democracy in which the institutionalization of deliberation and participation leads to a stronger political representation.