Poulin-Litvak: Sortition as a means to fight corruption

A new paper by David Poulin-Litvak has the following abstract:

Electoral democracy is in crisis. The use of sortition in our political systems could be a key to renewing and deepening democracy. But how to do so? And where to start? In this paper, I explore the idea that using sortition to address the problem of corruption could be a first step. Why? For two reasons. First, corruption of elected officials is an internal inconsistency of electoral democracy – it cannot be resolved adequately through electoral institutions. Second, there is also a large consensus on the fact – everybody agrees – that corruption is a problem.

I suggest granting the power to convene an Investigation Commission to a randomly selected citizen body. This body should also nominate the Commission’s head and receive its recommendations. I also discuss the idea of a Citizens’ Court to directly address the problem of corruption of elected officials. This broad jury would judge and sanction corrupted elected officials. Taking Quebec’s ongoing corruption saga as an example, I also try to see how the system would work in reality and, finally, where the system, once put into place, could lead to.

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4 Responses

  1. This is the paper David was due to present at the Political Studies Association sortition panel last month. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it but it was a good session, although with only a tiny audience. I have a hunch this was because the panel was entitled “Sortition and the Political Party” and most political scientists/theorists still have no idea what sortition is. Sometimes I think we should make it easier and talk about political lotteries or some such, but probably better if we tough it out.

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  2. We need leader & law makers who are wise and ethical.
    I see a very basic flaw in the idea of sortition. A randomly selected citizen body would have little chance of all it’s members having such qualities.
    Our leaders are best chosen from all the populous, for their abilities, wisdom and morals. No candidates. No large wages or compensation.
    http://news.bahai.org/story/950

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  3. Alexandrajoon,

    David’s proposal was not to elect leaders and law makers by lot, merely to establish an investigation commission and citizen’s court to judge and sanction corrupted elected officials. Given your proposal to choose leaders from all the populous, what would be the selection mechanism, assuming that by “no candidates” you are ruling out election?

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  4. > Our leaders are best chosen from all the populous, for their abilities, wisdom and morals.

    Wise and moral according to whom? If the average person is not wise or moral, how can the average person be trusted to choose wise and moral leaders?

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