This contribution discusses the effects of new experiments of citizen participation for democratic legitimacy. Following Scharf’s distinction between input-oriented and output-oriented legitimacy, it is argued that both types of legitimacy pose different demands on citizen involvement. Using insights from the literature on deliberative democracy, two criteria are formulated to obtain both types of legitimacy. Input-oriented legitimacy derives from the extent to which the participative process meets the criterion of fairness, whereas a high level of competence is needed to achieve legitimacy on the output side. The question is to what extent these two criteria of fairness and competence can be realised simultaneously. It is argued that both criteria are rather conflictual, as a high level of fairness can only be achieved at the expense of the level of competence. Furthermore it is a rather naive ideal to strive for participative processes that completely live up to the principle of fairness. Therefore new forms of citizen participation should primarily focus on the criterion of competence. In this way citizen involvement may indeed contribute to achieve legitimacy on the output side.

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Keywords citizen participation, democracy, legitimacy
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Series NIG Annual Work Conference 2004 Rotterdam
Boedeltje, M, & Cornips, J. (2004). Input and output legitimacy in interactive governance (No. NIG2-01). NIG Annual Work Conference 2004 Rotterdam. Retrieved from