In October 2002, Bulgaria was the sight of the first national Deliberative Polling® (DP) in Eastern Europe. A national random sample of the citizenry were brought to a single site to deliberate for a weekend on a crucial national issue — how to deal with crime.
Despite the fact that Bulgaria has stable democratic institutions and regular, well-organized elections, there is growing concern about the widening gap between the public and the elite. The topic of crime has ranked high on the public agenda for years, and a DP increased the chances for an open public dialogue on the issue. It illustrated how informed citizens make choices on the basis of better argumentation and clearly stated positions. The DP – with its weekend microcosm gave a unique opportunity for interaction between a better informed public and officials.