One of the answers to the present crisis of representative institutions in many democratic countries comes from rediscovering the "power of the people", i.e. from a greater involvement of citizens in public decisions and policies. Participation today is increasingly spelled out along the lines indicated by deliberative democracy theory, featuring: dialogic interactions based on active listening; deliberation, i.e. careful weighing of options and their implications; adequate and balanced information; inclusion, meaning that all voices can make themselves heard; participation of random stratified samples of ordinary citizens, representative under the socio-demographic profile. Deliberative democracy makes many promises: better decisions incorporating information, technical-scientific knowledge and preferences; choices that are shared and perceived as legitimate; greater legitimation of the polity in general; growth of social capital, just a to mention a few. Deliberative theory has been applied in many processes in numerous countries. Perhaps one of the most interesting "laboratories" in this field today is Tuscany, where law no. 69, probably the first in the world pro-actively promoting participation to local and regional decision making according to at least some aspects of deliberative theory, was passed at the end of 2007.
Keywords: Participation, deliberative theory, institutionalization, Tuscany