Louis offers sortition to the Belgian parliament

A commenter draws attention to a recent speech by Belgian MP Laurent Louis:

According to the description on the YouTube page, Louis is presenting a proposal based on the ideas of Etienne Chouard which is laid out in detail here: http://www.lachambre.be/FLWB/PDF/53/2860/53K2860001.pdf.

An automatic translation of the introduction of the proposal (with my touch-ups) is as follows:

A motion for a resolution on the revision of the electoral system and the establishment of the draw members of the Federal Parliament of the Kingdom of Belgium

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

The Kingdom of Belgium has gone through its history, a plurality of policies by landscapes from the bipartisan confrontation (1830-1893) to extreme multiparty (1965-present), all with a common point, the election. Belgium claims, like all Western countries which have adopted the same system, to be a representative democracy. Representative democracy is a “system in which elected representatives by the people develop and pass legislation.” This system, highly controversial for many years, does not give the people the opportunity to express itself and to pass laws (as in a direct democracy), but has “the great disadvantage of vesting the decision making power, not in the people themselves as the idea of ​​democracy suggests, but in representatives elected by the people and governments designated indirectly, not to mention even more indirect selection of public agencies and other institutions.”

The Belgian population, deprived of its sovereign role, is reduced to voting, the political practice with the most important role in the implementation of power. Today it is the political parties that day in and day out subvert the very notion of democracy. It is impossible to speak of democracy when the people have been dispossessed of their rights and must submit to the will of political parties, which often protect financial interests and serve as the voice of pressure groups of all kinds who want to impose their views. In addition, political parties, although they determine the entire political life in Belgium are not recognized by the constitution. The claim that in our country laws are passed by the people for the people is one of the most blatant lies!

The issue of funding of political parties should also be discussed. When we know that political parties have in place very generous public endowments, the question arises as to how, in the face to the power of money, a new movement can be created and can compete with political parties spending millions of Euros annually. It is an uphill battle, and one that cannot be won unless the newcomers to politics are themselves representing special interests. Democracy should allow every citizen to engage in politics and to have the same opportunities as their competitors. This is not the case in our country since the established political parties have taken the necessary measures to ensure their survival and sustainability. Democracy is therefore an illusion in modern Belgium. It is the same in very many countries around the world.

After the federal elections of June 13, 2010, Belgium has experienced a deep political crisis reflecting the inability of its leaders to take the destiny of the nation in hand. While the population itself is proud of its country, no matter its linguistic affiliation, our leaders showed and continue to show a total lack of involvement and respect in their duties as elected officials, resulting in longest political crisis in modern European history.

But what lessons did we learn from a functioning state coasting without government during 541 days of endless discussions? In fact, none. We noticed that it did not affect the normal Belgian citizens. While we could have imagined that the resignation of a government would cause chaos in a country like ours is, in fact, what happened was the opposite. Indeed, the European Union started, at the time, the imposition of austerity measures on member states and, as our system of government was in disarray, these coercive quasi-totalitarian and undemocratic decisions, could not, at that time, be applied to our territory. This was the perfect demonstration of the effective uselessness of our representative government which today functions as no more than vassals, tools for implementing any decision of the European Union, without ever challenging or criticize it. The irony lies in the fact that the new government was almost identical to the one it replaced.

We realize today, based on the experience of 200 years of elections, that the grand myth of elections and the idea that ​​universal suffrage is emancipatory do not fulfill their promises. The elective system creates corruption, lies, formation of castes and other abuses against which it is impossible to fight, because they are in inherent in the mechanisms of elections, except in establishing another method for the selection of those who make the laws, namely sortition among the citizens.

We will try to list in this resolution an inventory of the major shortcomings of representative democracy. We will list the points which objectively are the source of discrepancies between what we assume to be true democracy and current representative democracy.

To substantiate our discussion, we will review some of the main limitations and excesses our model selection of our leaders: elections.

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6 Responses

  1. here a video about sortition! I don’t think you shared it already! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6mu6E4TTLo

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  2. Thanks – the producer of the video, David Grant, is a contributor to this blog. You can see his posts here: https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/author/commonlot/.

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  3. Now that resolutions about sortition are starting to be introduced in parliamentary bodies, I have taken to saying that sortition is finally transitioning from being considered a crackpot idea to being recognized as a fringe idea! Still a long ways to go.

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  4. It is certainly good news that sortition found a high profile advocate in the person of Laurent Louis and it is great news that Louis and Chouard are collaborating. We should find ways to leverage those developments into further dissemination of the idea. Possibly translating Louis’s proposition into English could generate some publicity.

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  5. But look at his parliamentary colleagues — one is picking his nose and the other appears to be deep in prayer!

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  6. […] MP Laurent Louis offering sortition to the Belgian parliament (and joining forces with Etienne […]

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