Phase 1 : Public agenda setting
The first phase consisted of a very open process of agenda setting. The agenda of the citizen summit itself was not determined by the organizers; as it is a commonplace practice in deliberative ventures. Rather, the organizers were convinced of the importance of starting with a very open agenda, which would be determined entirely by the public itself.
In order to guarantee an open process of agenda setting, a large-scale online consultation was organized. In the beginning of July 2011, the organizers launched a so-called idea-box on the website in which every citizen, no matter what his or her opinion or background, could post the questions or problems that should be treated at the G1000 citizen summit. This online consultation resulted in a few thousand ideas (after having removed inappropriate and/or insulting ideas), dealing with all kinds of social, political and economic issues. Moreover, those who submitted their questions could also rate the ideas and proposals of others, allowing us to get an accurate reading of the saliency of the issues. In total, more than 6000 people took part in this process.
Because most of the proposals appeared several times in the list, the ideas were subsequently clustered into a top 25 of themes based on the number of times they appeared and on their rating by the citizens. This list of 25 was once again put online in October 2011, and through the media, citizens were invited to vote for their three preferred themes for the G1000. Eventually, these three issues turned out to be: social security, welfare in times of economic crisis, and immigration.
In order to avoid a bias in the results, the 25 ideas appeared in a random order on the screen, so that the organizers had no influence on the final agenda. There was also an ex-post IP check to prevent massive voting by a single individual or group. This large-scale public consultation, and the voting tool for the top 25 guaranteed that the agenda of the deliberative event was very open and not inspired by partisan or political ideas.