Ad van der Ven wrote to draw attention to David Van Reybrouck’s argument in favor of sortition. Van Reybrouck is a prize winning Flemish Belgian author writing historical fiction, literary non-fiction, novels, poetry, plays and academic texts.
His latest book is Tegen verkiezingen (Against elections) (machine translation with my touch-ups):
Our representative democracy is increasingly in the doldrums. Its legitimacy is affected: fewer and fewer people vote, voters are less predictable in their choice, and the membership of political parties is decreasing dramatically. It is the efficiency of less democracy: since long term government is problematic, politicians increasingly align their policies to the next election. It all leads to what is called by David Van Reybrouck democratic fatigue. But how do tackle it? Papering over the cracks – that is what is happening now mainly. There are some renovation trends here and there. Reybrouck fears that this kind of marginal solutions is no longer sufficient and that the existing system will result in more and more crises.
Over the last decades, increasing political attention is given to an old democratic principle that was used especially in classical Athens: sortition. Until the French Revolution sortition was a common democratic mechanism, not only in Athens but also in the flourishing republics of Venice and Florence during the Renaissance. After the French Revolution, it lives only in the courts of some countries. David Van Reybrouck presents a clear argument that sortition is an effective way to revitalize what has become an impotent democracy to involve the citizens in what concerns us as a society.
Van Reybrouck talks about his book in a segment of Buitenhof, a Dutch political interview program (third segment, starting at 36:30).