OK, I know this is not very ‘democratic’ but I am happy that someone opened up the debate on the limits of participatory democracy. Lately, the idea of holding a referendum is often presented as THE one and only democratic instrument that we have (especially by Madame Royal). Strangely enough, only relating to EU issues, never because of domestic policies. Anyway, after the failed referenda on the EU constitutional treaty in France and the Netherlands, we could clearly see in what kind of mess you can run with holding a referendum with uninformed people that lost trust in their national politicians. (hope this is enough provocation for some mean comments!)
So, here is some food for thought from Michel Godet via eurotopics:
If we are not careful, participatory democracy may consecrate the triumph of self-interest in the short-term (the only unfair inequalities are those that we do not benefit from!) at the expense of long-term collective interest. The courageous decisions to be taken regarding the future are rarely consensual and if forecasting needs be participatory, the strategy that it inspires is up to the elected members of Parliament. It is up to them to demonstrate will power and courage in order to avoid participatory demagogy.
Here the link to the original article in French: Démocratie ou démagogie?