‘Autonomy Convention’ and ‘Consulta’: Deliberative Democracy in Subnational Minority Contexts

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The article compares deliberative practices within the two constituent units of the Italian Autonomous Region of Trentino-South Tyrol: the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen (South Tyrol) and the Autonomous Province of Trento (Trentino). South Tyrol’s ‘Autonomy Convention’ and Trentino’s ‘Consulta’ are consultative processes that are differently structured but have the same aim: the elaboration of proposals as to the revision of the region’s basic law, the Autonomy Statute of 1972. The article highlights differences in structures and procedures of both deliberative practices and it gives evidence on the implications such differences have in the respective sociopolitical contexts. Unlike Trentino, South Tyrol is characterized by a power-sharing system between its major language groups, German- and Italian speakers; some special rules also apply to the third language group, the Ladins. The argument developed is that, in South Tyrol, the successful settlement of conflict by means of consociational arrangements favoured the institutionalization of deliberative practices. However, the same arrangements pose challenges to deliberative practices. The article contributes to the emerging literature on pitfalls and potential of deliberative practices implemented in multilingual and divided societies.

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