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Recent scholarship claims that citizen deliberation can contribute to the legitimacy of political decision-making. By including everyone who is affected by a decision in the process leading to that decision, deliberation is capable of generating political outcomes that receive broad public support. However, if deliberative democracy wants to contribute to the legitimacy of the political system, it has to be legitimate in itself. In other words, deliberative processes have to reflect the principles of legitimacy in their own functioning. It is therefore crucial to assess the internal legitimacy of deliberative mini-publics before making claims about their contribution to the legitimacy of the political system as a whole. In this article, we set out to refine the theory on deliberative legitimacy and to determine the legitimacy of one particularly interesting deliberative event, namely the Belgian G1000 Citizens' Summit. We argue that it is very difficult for deliberative processes to be high on all dimensions of legitimacy and that there is a trade-off between input, throughput and output legitimacy. Moreover, our analysis suggests that specific design characteristics to a large extent determine the legitimacy of deliberative processes.
- Deliberative democracy
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