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Authoritarian deliberation is a term that is typically used to refer to semi-free public discussion of issues. It is to be contrasted with democratic deliberation which is completely free and not constrained by the government.
Authoritarian deliberation helps dictatorships because it allows them to give their people some feeling of being consulted and of giving consent with regard to various public issues. If dictatorships allow no deliberation whatsoever, they do not allow their people to feel that they have a voice. When people feel this way, they are more likely to rebel. As we have seen recently, this can lead to revolutions such as in the "Arab Spring."
By contrast, China is seen as a user of authoritarian deliberation. This may help to explain why it has not seen rebellions such as those in the Arab world. The authoritarian deliberation serves as a release valve for public unhappiness and thereby strengthens the legitimacy and the stability of the dictatorship.
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