No Representation Without Consultation

No Representation Without Consultation

A Citizen’s Guide to Participatory Democracy

By Patrizia Nanz and Claus Leggewie, Translated by Damian Harrison and Stephen Roche



Democracy is in crisis. Right-wing populism and authoritarianism are on the rise around the world, fed by widespread disaffection and disillusionment with political and economic systems rigged in favour of elites. In the face of unprecedented challenges and crises, citizens find themselves excluded from the top-down decisions made by the three traditional branches of liberal-democratic government—the executive, legislative, and judicial.

To reinvigorate democracy we need a new kind of participatory politics. Patrizia Nanz and Claus Leggewie propose a fourth branch of government—a consultative branch comprising a network of “future councils”—that would draw on the wisdom of the many to address urgent issues like digitalization, migration, and the climate crisis.

This short and accessible guide to a new kind of political engagement offers an important analysis of right-wing populism’s recent and historic allure, a robust analysis of the accomplishments of protest movements and citizens’ groups, and a concrete proposal for establishing the basis of a true participatory democracy. With a rare optimism, which values the wisdom of the masses over the narrow-mindedness of today’s authoritarians and technocrats, this guide is a modern call-to-arms for a more democratic, participatory, and sustainable future.


“Our democracy urgently needs to be reinvented to thrive in this era. Big changes have to be made in the functioning of our representative institutions, and in the parties who compete for power through these. But these will not be enough. Citizens have to be involved. Our democracies must be reinvented from the ground up. Nanz and Leggewie have worked out an important proposal for doing just this, giving ordinary citizens a chance to define the issues. This clearly needs to be more widely known, and tried.”

– Charles Taylor, philosopher and political theorist


Introduction to the English Edition
Introduction The consultative as a fourth branch of government – process, mode, institution
Chapter 1 Post-democracy? Experiment with democracy!
Chapter 2 Process – the best and worst of participatory democracy
Chapter 3 The political mode - On the spirit of cooperation
Chapter 4 Institution – Future councils as arenas of generational politics
Chapter 5 Political participation in virtual spaces
Chapter 6 Future councils: a pathway to transnational democracy?