Agenda Setting and Democratic Innovation: The Case of the Sustainable Communities Act (2007)



This article suggests that a common feature among democratic innovations is the lack of an agenda setting function. First, it argues that a lack of control over their own agendas opens democratic innovations to manipulation by elites. Second, it argues that democratic innovations focused on setting the policy agendas of public authorities can serve to democratise the policy process by providing citizens with a tool to place issues on the public agenda. The article analyses a series of actual and potential institutional designs that divert from the dominant ‘direct-democratic’ nature of agenda setting innovations. It finishes with a discussion of the UK Sustainable Communities Act (2007), a process designed to allow communities to propose policy to government through their councils.