Griffiths is generally sympathetic to sortition and starts out with a long list of “well known” advantages of the system. The first few of these are:
it is likelier than any other system to produce representative bodies that are sociologically representative of the people;
• it removes the need for any specific positive discrimination;
• it forces political parties, campaign groups, etc., to address themselves to the public as a whole if they want to have any consistent influence on policy;
• it transforms political representation into a genuine public service, carried out by people who would often not have chosen it: a matter of duty, not ambition[.]
In terms of potential problems, Griffiths is much concerned about the validity of the sampling procedure and raises the questions of both deliberate tampering and non-intentional error as well as the question of whether the public will have faith in the procedure.
Griffiths lists four additional potential problems:
- The small chance of a citizen being sampled into a high powered body, or even knowing someone on such a body. Griffiths believes this may lead the population to become uninterested in politics.
- The professionals in the political system, including lobbyists, may be the ones really wielding political power.
- Without party organization, it may be difficult for the allotted body to set its agenda, and this role may in effect be carried out by some elite group.
- The inapplicability of sortition to organizations where membership is a relatively low commitment affair. In such cases it is unlikely that allotted members would be willing to put in much effort into serving in an allotted body.
These are all interesting points that deserve attention. The one about the professionals in the system wielding power is to some extent discussed here, but surely merits additional discussion.