UCL Launch Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK

Last weekend a UK-wide citizens’ assembly was launched by the UCL Constitution Unit, looking at public attitudes towards democracy and examining the core question: how should the UK’s democratic system work?

The Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK will meet remotely over six weekends in the coming months to explore what kind of democratic system people want in the UK, with members hearing evidence from experts, politicians and campaigners, and discussing the issues in depth among themselves.

The Assembly is comprised of around 75 members, carefully selected to reflect the UK voting-age population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, education, disability status, region, and political attitudes. It will investigate what roles should be played by government, parliament, the courts, and the public, and what expectations people have for how participants in UK democracy should behave.

The Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK is a central part of the Democracy in the UK after Brexit project. The project also involves two population surveys on public attitudes to democracy in the UK, delivered in partnership with YouGov, the first of which was launched in July 2021 and will be reported on in January 2022.

The results of the two surveys, together with the recommendations of the citizens’ assembly will offer significant and invaluable insight into public attitudes to democracy in the UK today.

Assembly members will hear from and question a wide range of expert speakers and discuss their thoughts with fellow members. The members will then build recommendations on how democracy should operate, with the aim of informing debates about democracy among policymakers in governments and parliaments in all parts of the UK.

The speakers’ presentations, briefings and agenda for each weekend will be available on the Constitution Unit website after they take place. You can view week 1 here.

Professor Alan Renwick, project lead and Deputy Director of the UCL Constitution Unit:

“The UK’s democratic arrangements have been severely stretched by the process of Brexit and the experience of COVID. It’s time for a review, and it’s crucial that any such review engages the public. We need to explore deeply what kind of democracy people want when they have had a chance to think the matter through carefully. That’s what the Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK will do.”