When politics polarise, solutions become difficult and blockades form. How to cope? Get people together and let them speak freely.
The magic word is deliberation – the joint discussion of possibilities before individual decision-making. This is the focus of experiments by Jonas Nakonz and his young colleagues at forausexternal link, a Swiss foreign policy think tank.
For the past two years, Nakonz has been using the “PoliTisch”external link format to organise migration policy talks with very diverse participants from various population groups – including politicians. While eating together, they discuss a wide range of attitudes and opinions. In doing so, Nakonz observes how the mixed crowds find answers to political questions.
The approach behind it? If people are part of the political debate from early on, they can express themselves much more accurately than with a mere “yes” or “no” at the end of the debate. For it is precisely this reduction of democracy to an “either-or” that fuels polarisation.