Posted on February 27, 2015 by Yoram Gat
The fortunes of 3000 Morena activists, previously elected in 300 district assemblies, was determined yesterday in a lottery.
In this way the party led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador selected two thirds of its multi-member congressional district candidates.
Afterwards the Morena national council appointed outsiders – academics, human rights defenders, writers and rural leaders, among others – to fill the remaining candidacies.
“We successfully incorporated sortition into the process of selection of candidates. It is unprecedented, never seen in the history of our country,” said López Obrador about the lottery method.
Filed under: Applications, Elections, Press, Sortition | Tagged: Mexico, Morena | 3 Comments »
Posted on February 24, 2015 by keithsutherland
A new paper by sociologists Thomas Hirschl and Mark Rank (H&R) on PLOS One casts doubt on the arguments that electoral arrangements in the US place disproportionate power in the hands of a tiny elite of rich citizens, at the expense of the interests of ‘the masses’:
Social awareness of the growing distance between top-level earners versus the rest of the income distribution helped to spark the Occupy movement and focus media attention on economic inequality. Much of the associated rhetoric presumes that the same individuals persist in top-level percentiles, in particular the 1 percent. This presumption is erroneous to the extent that year-to-year mobility functions to turnover incumbents. To the extent there is turnover, then this functions to buffer inequality, e.g. take the hypothetical case of 100 percent annual turnover within the composition of the top 10 percent, creating the condition of no inequality at this percentile level when measured across a decade. This study explores this empirical possibility, and other possibilities, by analyzing mobility associated with top-level income in the United States. (p.7)
Filed under: Academia, Elections | 15 Comments »
Posted on February 22, 2015 by John Burnheim
The salient feature of modern democracy is that those who wield legislative and administrative power are chosen by popular vote in open competition between candidates. In practice the candidates generally present themselves as representatives of a party with a distinct ideological emphasis. Some voters who share a particular ideological position will normally support the same party, though they may disagree on many matters of policy. Others, less ideologically committed, are “swinging voters”, taking a more pragmatic view of which party to support. In either case, voters are constrained to chose between packages of personalities, policies and promises. The processes by which the parties arrive at these packages are not very transparent and are widely distrusted. For good reason, as I shall attempt to explain.
The alternative I propose is that the policies we adopt in any specific sphere of public decision-making should be determined by bodies that are statistically representative of those most directly affected by what happens in that sphere. These bodies would have no formal constitutional status. They would depend for their authority on community recognition. We would constrain our elected representatives to activate those decisions in legislation and administration on penalty of not being elected or re-elected.
Instead of being consumers faced with a choice between packages over whose contents we have little influence, we forfeit any attempt to impose an ideological flavour on the whole range of public decisions and concentrate on getting sound decisions in those matters that affect us most. The focus of these bodies would be on specific problem areas. There would be no attempt to prescribe for every possible eventuality. The whole would be treated as an ecosystem that mostly looks after itself, as various interactions adapt to eacn other. It is far too complex and unpredictable to be planned, but its stability and development are constantly being threatened by various human activities that may need to be regulated or eliminated.
Filed under: Elections, Proposals, Sortition | 19 Comments »
Posted on February 20, 2015 by conallboyle
Here’s a nice piece in today’s Irish Times, showing clearly the need for lottery selection in jobs.
It asks the question: Why women (despite being over 50% of the faculty staff) fail to take an equal share of top posts in academia?
You can read the article in full (and for free!) at
In the comments section we the usual reaction to any suggestion of ‘affirmative action’
“Here we go, more feminist claptrap. All academic posts must be based on merit.”
To which a wise commentator replies: “You think merit has much to do with academic appointments? There’s usually an assessor’s box called suitability which you can fill with subliminal prejudices: plays golf, politics, sounds like me etc”.
While waiting for grand schemes of sortitionist democracy to be implemented, wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit of genuine equality based on lottery selection over the qualified candidates?
Filed under: Academia, Distribution by lot, education, Employment, Press | Tagged: jobs, Lottery | 38 Comments »
Posted on February 20, 2015 by Yoram Gat
Lesley Docksey writes in the Dissident Voice:
With a general election looming in the United Kingdom and Spain possibly following Greece’s revolt against austerity later this year, we need to think, not just who or what we are voting for, but why we should vote at all.
People are suffering from a deficiency which is as unbalancing as a hormone or vitamin deficiency. What we are severely lacking in is democracy. Many of those pondering on the state of politics feel unhappy and somehow depleted. They haven’t yet realised it is democracy that’s lacking because they have believed what so many politicians have told them, over and over again:
We live in a democracy. Now exercise your democratic right and vote for us.
But what is the point of voting if, no matter who you vote for, what you get is the same old, same old?
Filed under: Athens, Elections, Press, Sortition | Tagged: localism | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 12, 2015 by Brett Hennig
The Sortition Foundation will be holding a discussion on sortition at Occupy Democracy: Inequality and Representation this weekend.
When: 4pm, Saturday 14th February
Where: Parliament Square, London
More info: Occupy Democracy 14-15 February Programme
Come along, invite your friends!
Filed under: Action, Sortition | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 12, 2015 by Yoram Gat
As Time magazine reports, low voter turnouts worry some people:
In Los Angeles, as in many cities, voter turnout for local elections tends to be pathetic. In 2013, only 16% of registered voters weighed in on an election that would help determine the city council, mayor, school board, and a potential tax increase. In other words, 84% of registered voters didn’t bother to vote. And the number of potential voters is much higher, of course, since plenty of eligible voters aren’t registered.
Filed under: Academia, Elections, Participation, Proposals | 2 Comments »