This chapter explores recent practices of participatory democracy. A government is said to be close to its citizens if it does not stand on ceremony, if it is prepared to step down from its pedestal to confront criticism directly and engage in debate or seek outside opinions—in other words, if it recognizes that formal institutions are not enough and that it must seek to establish more flexible and direct relations with the people. Since the 1990s, many initiatives of this sort have been attempted in any number of countries. Although the number of such experiments remains relatively small, the interest they have aroused attests to a profound evolution in our perception of what constitutes a legitimate government.
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