Procedural legitimacy and political trust: The case of citizen juries in Spain

Joan Font, Ismael Blanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


During the past few years, new mechanisms of citizen participation in decision making have been introduced into local governance frameworks in many countries around the world. One of the basic objectives of these mechanisms is to bridge the gap between citizens and politicians or, in other words, to build political trust. In Spain, citizen juries are one of the main manifestations of this trend towards local democratic innovation. Their contribution to the building of political trust depends above all on their ability to secure their own procedural legitimacy. Case studies of Spanish citizen juries demonstrate that this mechanism can guarantee sufficient pluralism, and that appropriate amounts of information and deliberation, as well as devices to guarantee neutrality, can be incorporated. However, the limited role that citizen juries assign to associations and the strategic considerations that all political actors have with respect to them are crucial limits to their broader political acceptance. Moreover, their educative effects are limited by two factors: they are isolated experiences in a context of very limited opportunities for participation; and their impact on decision making tends to be irregular and diffuse. Nevertheless, Spanish citizen juries also have the potential to increase citizens' interest in local events and the topics under discussion, and to stimulate reflection on social problems. Their contribution to achieving better informed and more responsive bureaucrats and politicians could also be a crucial step towards establishing a greater degree of political trust. © 2007 The Author(s); Journal compilation © 2007 (European Consortium for Political Research).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-589
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2007


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