Which models of democracy do citizens prefer? Do they want a democracy which actively involves citizens with democracy or one with a democratically elected strong leader? Research on citizens' democratic preferences has gained significant traction in past years, and DDME aims to make an original contribution to this research agenda.
Firstly, we allow citizens to combine different models of democracy. Previous studies often asked individuals to choose a specific model, suggesting that citizens preferred a singular type of democracy. However, we believe that citizens want a democracy that blends features from various models, such as merging the legacy institutions of the representative system with participatory elements. Our blended approach to democracy aims to provide a more nuanced and insightful understanding of the democratic system that citizens truly desire.
Secondly, we prompt citizens to imagine a new democracy on both Earth and Mars. This distinction between planets enables us to examine people's visions of a desirable and ideal democracy. A desirable democracy is connected to Earth and the existing political systems in which citizens currently reside. It is influenced by various constraints such as economic inequalities, political dynamics, and ethnic minorities, all of which shape individuals' imaginations of a new democracy. On the other hand, a Martian democracy provides individuals with the freedom to conceive an ideal democracy from scratch, without the constraints of earthly parameters.
Thirdly, we adopt a problem-based approach to democracy. Contemporary theorists have advocated for a new perspective in democratic theory, suggesting that a political system is democratic to the extent that it effectively addresses three democratic problems: empowering inclusion, forming collective agendas and wills, and facilitating collective decision-making. DDME aligns with this approach when examining citizens' democratic preferences. We first ask citizens to identify the main challenges that democracy currently faces, and then allow them to construct their own blended democratic model, explaining how their model choices addresses these identified problems.
We conduct extensive surveys in two countries from the Global North (Germany and the United States) and one country from the Global South (India).