New Report: A Citizens’ Assembly for the Scottish Parliament

citizensassemblyA paper I’ve co-written with Common Weal Scotland and newDemocracy Foundation has just been published, proposing a sortition second chamber for the Scottish Parliament.

Initial (somewhat inaccurate) press coverage by The National was okay, except for the unhelpful headline.

A (sold out) talk at Edinburgh University will discuss the merits of the proposal.

The full paper is here.

Advertisements

38 Responses

  1. What has the response been like? What are the prospects for this actually being put into effect?

    I don’t think the headline was that bad. I think people should be paid a lot for their sortition service to make it so that even those in the most difficult situations would want to participate, so that most everyone would participate even if it weren’t mandatory. In other words, make it mandatory, but make the compensation so high that basically compulsion isn’t necessary. Even very high compensation costs for participants would be tiny compared to the existing costs of waste, fraud, corruption, and massive systemic exploitation.

    This screening could be discriminatory in a problematic way: “any member guilty of … serious criminal offence would be expelled and replaced.” In Scotland, were the definitions of what counts as a criminal offence put into place in a democratic manner and are the criminal laws enforced equally on every sector of society?

    Those affected by decision-making have a right to be a part of it. This is a great provision: “It could also be argued that non-citizens (immigrants, refugees) should be eligible for selection….”

    This is a key issue for sortition systems to address: “certain under-represented groups that are least likely to accept an invitation (e.g. those with a disability) should be allocated reserved seats.”

    Like

  2. Hi Brett,

    >A second chamber with 73 members would be large enough to be broadly representative of the population

    Not in the sense that any statistician would understand. And it is problematic (as you acknowledge) if the final sortition is based on the people who take up the original invitation. Typically this is only a tiny minority, and we don’t know yet the extent to which this would be improved by the large salary offered. But it is misleading to say that this is akin to mandatory jury service, as the sortition is based on a pool of volunteers. See the paper reported at https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/explaining-non-participation-in-deliberative-mini-publics/ for the effects of non-participation on descriptive representation.

    Look forward to meeting you in person at the Glasgow sortition panel next month.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Brett – the headline on the article is clearly biased. The proposal is for the members of the new chamber to be paid as much as the elected politicians are. How can that be the most mention-worthy piece of information in the article?

    Like

  4. Why is there is so much hedging in this paper regarding the powers of the new chamber? Why couldn’t it make a straight equal-footing-to-the-elected-chamber proposal?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Electoral assemblies didn’t gain complete legislative power from monarchies overnight (and some still haven’t). But once established, they generally seem to increase their legislative powers over time — with monarchies eventually being abolished or highly constrained. Could a sortition assembly follow the same path vis-a-vis electoral assemblies that electoral assemblies followed vis-a-vis monarchies?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Obviously it’s better to abolish a monarchy immediately. My question above is what to do in situations where the monarchy refuses to abdicate and there’s as of yet insufficient power to oust the monarchy.

    Like

  7. > Could a sortition assembly follow the same path vis-a-vis electoral assemblies that electoral assemblies followed vis-a-vis monarchies?

    This is my hope!

    As to the chances of it becoming a reality I couldn’t say, although the rather large NGO (Common Weal/All of us first) will be making it a focus of their campaigning.

    >Why is there is so much hedging in this paper regarding the powers of the new chamber?

    To make it more palatable for politicians…

    Like

  8. > To make it more palatable for politicians…

    That’s a strategic mistake. Our main audience should be the people, not the politicians. We should not be seeking the politicians’ permission, but their capitulation. If the goal is a full powered allotted chamber, let’s make that a clear and vocal demand. There will always be opportunities to compromise later if need be. Why do should we present compromised proposals at the outset?

    Like

  9. Jonathan,

    >Obviously it’s better to abolish a monarchy immediately.

    Many Russians would disagree during this centenary year. Constitutional monarchy and the evolutionary approach might have saved a century of bloodshed, repression and pauperisation.

    Yoram (to Brett),

    >We should not be seeking the politicians’ permission, but their capitulation.

    I’m sure Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov would have agreed. Unfortunately cod-revolutionary claptrap like this does the sortition movement incomparable damage, especially when it comes from the convenor of this blog. I’m not looking forward to October.

    Like

  10. > That’s a strategic mistake… If the goal is a full powered allotted chamber, let’s make that a clear and vocal demand.

    A discussion on how to get to sortition from here would be very interesting, but blog comments are not the place to have it I think. In my book I argue strongly for a “full powered allotted chamber” but I think getting one sortition second chamber in the world would be an incredible advance… I’m really tired of the reform vs revolution debate :)

    Like

  11. > I think getting one sortition second chamber in the world would be an incredible advance

    We’ve been over this argument many times as well, of course. An improperly constituted chamber could easily be a step backwards rather than forwards.

    Like

  12. Brett,

    >I’m really tired of the reform vs revolution debate.

    Unfortunately it can’t just be swept under the carpet. It strikes me that there are three coherent positions on sortition, all of which have advocates on this blog:

    1. Greeks Bearing Gifts
    The goal is the replacement of elections with sortition, but the approach is pragmatic — as Rome wasn’t built in a day. Better to start off with a compromise and then build on it until the final goal is reached as every wedge has a thin end. The approach is akin to social democracy — socialism through the ballot box rather than a worker’s uprising. From this perspective the difference between reform and revolution is just the element of time.

    2. The Stochastics
    Those of us in this camp argue that sortition can only fulfil the isonomia (stochastic) element of the democratic diarchy, leaving a permanent role for election as a form or representative isegoria. We are reformists who view the replacement of election by sortition as profoundly undemocratic, however long it takes.

    3. The Prophylactics
    People like Oliver Dowlen and Peter Stone argue that sortition has no role to play in political representation and can merely protect the political process from factionalism and other forms of corruption. No revolution would be involved.

    And then there’s . . . Yoram Gat, who argues that any compromise with “electoralism” is entirely unacceptable. I don’t see anyone else holding his view, but unfortunately he is the convenor of this blog.

    Like

  13. We wrote a proposition for a legislative citizens Jury in compliance with the criteria for sortition in legislation. http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/137395.pdf the criteria are in Dutch only for the moment but an automatic translation may give an idea. http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/141193.pdf

    Like

  14. Hi Paul,

    I had a look at the report and found it interesting. I especially liked the appendix discussing the way “participation” can be no more than manipulation. The illustration merits its own post.

    Can you tell a bit more about yourself and the group you belong to?

    Like

  15. Hello Yoram, I am a member of an organization in Belgium that promotes “democracy” meaning “citizens sovereignty” and in particular the “binding referendum at citizens initiative” or more in general the Swiss political system. Recently we added “sortition” to our arsenal of “democratic instruments” along with the “democratic elements” like “freedom of speech” and so on. We also emphasize that the plebiscite (referendum at the initiative of politicians) does not belong to the democratic instruments but is an instrument of dictators and political abuse.
    Our organisation (www.democratie.nu ) is a founding member of democracy international https://www.democracy-international.org/ who supports also the direct democracy navigator http://www.direct-democracy-navigator.org/ . Personally I regret the fact that some supporters of sortition are actively against the referendum instead of working together. Both are democratic instruments and maybe we can decide in the future which is best and has the final decision power. But good, I think that we all mean well and that is also a good sign for the future. In the mean time I think it is necessary to work on the “criteria for sortition in legislation” because we do see a lot of initiatives started but greatly influenced (and organised by) by the “deliberation industry” (specialists in communication and manipulation). The result is that the participants are happy (that is nice of course) but independent observers don’t see any significant results (if any, except of a publications in a fancy booklet).

    Kind regards

    Paul

    Like

  16. Hi Paul,

    What is the organization’s name? Is it democartie.nu? How long has it been active? What are the actions that it engages in? How many members does it have?

    I find that I am in that group of sortition advocates you refer to. As I see things, you are very much correct that government-initiated-referenda are non-democratic, but the reason for that applies to the Swiss/Oregon system as well: the agenda is set by powerful interests who largely determine what are the propositions on the ballot and that also have a hugely disproportional influence on the discussion. I make this argument in some detail here and here.

    In any case, it is clear that referenda are a very blunt instrument and cannot be used to set public policy on anything beyond very broad lines. In my mind, the crucial tool for democracy is sortition, whether or not referenda are used as well.

    Best,

    Yoram

    Liked by 1 person

  17. 1. Greeks Bearing Gifts
    The goal is the replacement of elections with sortition, but the approach is pragmatic — as Rome wasn’t built in a day. Better to start off with a compromise and then build on it until the final goal is reached as every wedge has a thin end. The approach is akin to social democracy — socialism through the ballot box rather than a worker’s uprising. From this perspective the difference between reform and revolution is just the element of time.
    2. The Stochastics
    Those of us in this camp argue that sortition can only fulfil the isonomia (stochastic) element of the democratic diarchy, leaving a permanent role for election as a form or representative isegoria. We are reformists who view the replacement of election by sortition as profoundly undemocratic, however long it takes.
    3. The Prophylactics
    People like Oliver Dowlen and Peter Stone argue that sortition has no role to play in political representation and can merely protect the political process from factionalism and other forms of corruption. No revolution would be involved.
    And then there’s . . .
    4. Yoram Gat

    Regarding (4), I thought this passage from Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution was apposite given this centenary year:

    The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business — kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists [and political theorists]. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new regime. . . The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.

    Whilst this has always appealed to “useful idiots” in the West, the Russian people have been less sanguine. This should be an object lesson to those arguing that the introduction of sortition will only happen when the masses seize power from the elites.

    I’m curious as to why Brett claims that a public forum like this is not the place to discuss the revolution vs reform strategy. If your concerns are primarily those of an activist (Brett is CEO of the Sortition Foundation and has a background in environmental activism) then I guess PR considerations take priority over the growth of understanding through open debate. Political movements are highly disciplined and there’s an embargo on washing dirty linen in public as there is an imperative to present a united front to the media.

    Like

  18. Hello Yoram, the organisation I work for is indeed “democratie.nu” this is a special use of the suffix “.nu” which means “now” in English. The name in English can be translated as “democracy now”.
    We are founded in 1995 and have some 40 members here in Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium). We are now expanding to the French speaking part. In the Netherlands and Germany the organisation is far more succesfull. In France it is more difficult (this is in compliance with the experiences in Switserland who are comparing the use of direct democracy between German and French speaking cantons) We are active in all kind of actions, whatever we can find to engage us, recently we had a mini-congress in Ghent. We give “voting advice” after studiing the party programs and so on.
    I know the discussion about referendum and sortition, we are working together with the sortition initiative in Switserland, but ther is no chance that they (and we) will give up the referendum as the expression of souvereignty of the people. As far as I can see, the sortition panels are far more subject to external influences then the people in referenda. Compare this panels with the juridical system with juries. We still have trust in this system (here in Belgium at least) but it has developed some rules that are easy forgotten in sortition for legislation purposes. The number of people for a juridical jury is in most cases 12 (or something like that). It seems (I don’t have studied this aspect) that for a ruling about “good and evil”, or “right or wrong” we don’t need more people. For legislation this is certainly not good enough to give “an image of society”. Anyway, here starts the “influence” of the organising organisation. I presume that 40 people appointed by sortition stratified geograffically and demografically is enough (can be accepted) to write a booklet that discuss a referendum proposition. (Oregon CIR). But I would not trust it to construct a binding acceptable legislation. Anyway, who decides what sortition system is used? Then, compare the working with the juridical jury. One organisation is hiring experts and calling up interested parties to defend all sides of a case. Compared with the referendum all this is happening below the radar and out of reach of the participants. And I am sure that powerfull interests will find the way to influence the panel (he who hire the organising organisation pays for the outcome). All the power and money used in referenda or today politics is not gone away with the use of sortition, we have to ask how it is used now in this “new” environment. But maybe there is also a big difference between USA and Europe in the possibility to restrain money being used in political campaines. Here we can legally do this. At least we demand (obligatory) “transparency” of the funds used, and even use limitations for political campaigns.

    I do agree nevertheless that the referendum is the instrument of the last resort when all else has failed.

    Is there anyone interested to write together the “criteria for good craftmanship for the use of sortition in legislation” (only Dutch draft for the moment, I can make a translation in English as good as I can) . We wrote our proposal along the lines of this criteria but for me there was not enough discussion.

    Best Regards,

    Paul

    Like

  19. I forgot to mention that one of us (Jos Verhulst) co-wrote a book about the arguments pro and con to the referendum. Available for free, already translated in 10 languages for the moment. Happy reading :-) https://www.democracy-international.org/direct-democracy-facts-arguments

    Like

  20. Paul,

    >One organisation is hiring experts and calling up interested parties to defend all sides of a case. Compared with the referendum all this is happening below the radar and out of reach of the participants.

    One solution is to leave this in the hands of the competing political parties — at least this is transparent, above the radar, and responsive to public opinion. The randomly-selected jury that decides the outcome would need to be considerably larger than the numbers you mention, in order to adequately “describe” the target population — in all probability somewhere between 300 and 1,000 depending on the decision threshold.

    Like

  21. *** Keith Sutherland said (March 3 , 8 :25) than evolutionary approach must be deemed better than revolutionary. He took the example of 20th century Russia.
    *** Why is Keith taking only the example of Russia ? It would be interesting to imagine an alternative history of Northern America, avoiding the American Revolution – and maybe the events which followed, including the American Civil War, with its incredible bloodshed (following wikipedia figures, based on 1860 census figures, 8 percent of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war – furthermore, there were Black losses in the North side, and Indian losses in the South side). Maybe the history could have been better, with the thirteen colonies remaining parts of the British Empire, along with the other British colonies of Canada and West Indies. Maybe.
    *** Alternative history is interesting science-fiction, but I am not sure that there was always a wide margin of choice given the circumstances.
    *** Actually, Keith Sutherland seems to think along a binary model : revolution = strong and quick change versus evolution = slow and progressive changes. Thus, he conflates revolutionary phenomena with political mutations, and deems all of them as prone to a high risk of uncontrolled events and disastrous consequences.
    *** I would rather limit the concept of revolution to the case of political mutations with conflict of strong legitimacies. With this definition, the late 20th century mutations to polyarchy from authoritarian systems (ex : Spain) or totalitarian Marxist-Leninist systems (Russia, Eastern Europe) were not revolutions, because the political myths underlying the legitimacies of the established regimes were exhausted – few people in 1990 East Germany believed in the eschatological Marxist-Leninist myth. The Athenian mutation to dêmokratia was not really a revolution, because after the Solonian republic and the Peisistratus populist tyranny the one established political myth was the one of the Polis, which can be integrated to the new democratic ideology. Note that other Greek democratic mutations may have been revolutions, in cities where there was a ruling elite with a strong aristocratic feeling of legitimacy.
    *** When there are both a conflict of strong legitimacies and hard class or regional conflicts, the situation may easily evolve in an uncontrolled string of events until end results not foreseen by most people, as in the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution. But it is erroneous to see any political mutation along this model, with the one criterion of it occurring quickly and radically.
    *** We can discuss about the best way to get from polyarchy to (ortho-)democracy, by a sudden change or by a progressive change through an hybrid system, and the best strategy could be different from a country to another one. But to consider a swift mutation as a revolution with its risks is erroneous. The strongest pillar of popular legitimacy for polyarchy is the democratic myth, which can be easily used by the supporters of a modern dêmokratia. The mutation would not involve a conflict of strong legitimacies. We will not be in a revolutionary situation.
    *** A democratic mutation could trigger a revolutionary process only in countries where it would exist a strong competing ideology external to the democratic myth – for instance a theocratic one (“We must not follow the People’s will, but God’s will”). It is not the case in any of the advanced societies Keith is thinking about. Keith should stop fearing “October”.

    Like

  22. Andre,

    The reason that I chose the October revolution rather than the American “revolution” is because the latter was no such creature. All the American founders did was to replace a hereditary monarch with an elected monarch and instantiate the principle of no taxation without representation. Whilst it is interesting to speculate on counterfactuals like whether the civil war would have occurred without the split from the British Crown, that’s a whole different debate.

    As for the events of October, the Bolsheviks certainly did not view it as a mutation, it was (supposedly) the seizing of power by the people. The reason that I drew attention to the passage from Trotsky at https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/new-report-a-citizens-assembly-for-the-scottish-parliament/#comment-20081 is because the rhetoric is a direct fit with Yoram’s, and he has argued consistently against any kind of mutation of electoral institutions.

    I agree with you that the time dimension is of no particular significance for those of you associated with position (1) above. But those of us in the stochastic camp (2) are not interested in the passage to orthodemocracy either quickly or slowly as our goal is the mixed system of governance referred to by Dahl as Polyarchy III.

    And I am still waiting to hear from Brett why he thinks this (public) forum is not the place to discuss the evolution vs revolution issue.

    Like

  23. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for all the information.

    Since you are in Belgium, you must be very much aware of David Van Reybrouck’s book and arguments. What do you make of him? Are you in touch with him?

    > I do agree nevertheless that the referendum is the instrument of the last resort when all else has failed.

    I agree with this completely: referenda have their place but only in very specific situations, not as a day-to-day policy setting tool.

    I’ll certainly have a look at Jos Verhulst’s book.

    Like

  24. *** Keith Sutherland says : « The reason that I drew attention to the passage from Trotsky […] is because the rhetoric is a direct fit with Yoram’s» as, in Trotsky’s discourse « the history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny ».
    *** Appeal to action of masses outside the established institutions (action which may be only psychical, when the power feels it has lost popular support) can be found to some degree in many political mutations – including in the end of European communisms.
    *** Whatever Keith thinks about Yoram’s strategic choices, there is a basic difference with Trostky’s. The masses the bolshevik leader wanted to enter « in the realm of rulership » were actually the conscientized fraction of the masses. I don’t remember Yoram proposing a kind of power, even a provisional one, which would be grounded on political selection. Here is the difference between the totalitarian way and the (ortho-) democratic way.
    *** I think conflating the two ways is confusing and intellectually hazardous. All the more so because I remember the French political elite reactions to Royal’s modest proposal about « citizen juries », conflating these allotted juries with « popular tribunals along Pol Pot or Mao Tse-Tung style » – to quote one of these reactions (others were about Robespierre, etc ..).

    Like

  25. Andre

    >I think conflating the two ways is confusing and intellectually hazardous.

    The comparison that I was drawing was with the rhetorical style of the two writers, not the form of governance that they were proposing. The cited passage from Trotsky’s History could easily have been drawn from the Quotations of Chairman Gat. And I do believe Yoram’s call to replace election by sortition tout court is both antidemocratic, strategically hazardous [and downright silly], especially given the growing support for allotted second chambers from within the political elite and commentariat.

    Like

  26. > intellectually hazardous

    This is not an intellectual failing (which could be forgiven) but a moral failing (which should be condemned).

    Neither the French elite attacking Royal nor Sutherland endlessly repeating his desperate lies here are making some sort of an honest mistake. The only thing that is sincere about the arguments they offer is the hate of democracy that they express: the same hatred felt by the Athenian elite thousands of years before them and by every elite since (including, of course, the Soviet elite).

    To the moral failing of wishing to rule others, the modern elites (and its faithful lapdogs) add the failing of hypocrisy. Up until the the 18th century (and to a lesser extent up until the 1960’s) the elites were openly expressing their disdain toward the masses. Now they have to lie. And so they do.

    Like

  27. Yoram,

    I’m genuinely puzzled as to who is, and who is not, a member of the “elite”. I’ve spent most of my life working with very ordinary people in small printing companies and yet I’m (presumably) an elite citizen, whereas you recently mentioned that you generally associate with members of the cultural and moneyed elite and yet you (presumably) are not. Or is it just that the iron law of oligarchy doesn’t apply to members of the revolutionary vanguard party, who have some heroic ability to escape the forces that determine the alignment of interests with wealth (etc.)?

    But the really troubling thing about your diatribes is your tendency to characterise disagreement with your counterparties in moral rather than intellectual terms. This is a common attribute with totalitarian regimes and it would appear that there is a matching personality type.

    Like

  28. >The masses the bolshevik leader wanted to enter « in the realm of rulership » were actually the conscientized fraction of the masses. I don’t remember Yoram proposing a kind of power, even a provisional one, which would be grounded on political selection.

    Given that all the past experiments with sortition have resulted in very low acceptance rates https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/explaining-non-participation-in-deliberative-mini-publics/ Yoram’s insistence on the voluntary principle will mean that “the conscientized fraction of the masses” will be over-represented in his new-style soviets. Self-selection is just as powerful a filter for sortition as it is for election as Yoram clearly realises — hence his implacable opposition to any form of mandatory participation for legislative jurors.

    >the modern elites (and its faithful lapdogs)

    I should emphasise that when I first started working on sortition some fifteen years ago I also believed in the simplistic nonsense that Yoram spouts — hence the title of my first book on the topic, The Party’s Over (2004). But in the intervening years I have listened to the argument that democracy requires a mixture of sortition and election. Why this should make me a faithful lapdog of the modern elites I have no idea.

    Like

  29. Hello all,

    to Keith:
    Quote: One solution is to leave this in the hands of the competing political parties — at least this is transparent, above the radar, and responsive to public opinion. The randomly-selected jury that decides the outcome would need to be considerably larger than the numbers you mention, in order to adequately “describe” the target population — in all probability somewhere between 300 and 1,000 depending on the decision threshold. Unquote
    Yes, this might be a sollution. To keep in mind anyway. The number of citizens I mentioned was in the case of a juridical jury (12). When you read our proposal you will see that we propose numbers as you are mentioning. http://blogimages.seniorennet.be/democratie/attach/137395.pdf

    to Yoram:
    Quote: Since you are in Belgium, you must be very much aware of David Van Reybrouck’s book and arguments. What do you make of him? Are you in touch with him? Unquote
    Yes, of course. We contacted him several times but he stays “an active opponent of the referendum” this means that we can’t work together (but he is in favor of the referenda for introduction of sortition!!). For us democracy is a combination of “democratic instruments” (sortition and binding referendum at peoples initiative) and “democratic elements” (freedom of speech, freedom of organisation, equality principle, division of powers, .. see Bernard Manin in your books) Elections are at best an “electoral aristocracy” by definition and they can be used where this is apropriate, probably not for political decisions.
    What I find problematic is the support that the sortition proposal from Van Reybroeck gets from politicians (replace the senate with people appointed by sortition). This means that they don’t see an immediate danger for the powers that be in this evolution. Compared with that they resist fiercely the idea of the “binding referendum at peoples initiative”. Of course, a senate that has no decicive power is ideal for them (in Belgium). Also the number is far below anything that is “representative” (150 max) unless they start with a “stratified” selection and other manipulations. Also an assembly of people appointed by sortition that stays in office for 4 years does not give any sufficient rotation and is vulnerable for manipulation and cooruption. Anyway it can’t be an ‘image of the population” for that long.
    Nobody? : Is there anyone interested to write together the “criteria for good craftmanship for the use of sortition in legislation” (only Dutch draft for the moment, I can make a translation in English as good as I can) . We wrote our proposal along the lines of this criteria but for me there was not enough discussion.
    or does it exist somewhere already? Then I missed it.

    Like

  30. Paul,

    >The number of citizens I mentioned was in the case of a juridical jury (12). When you read our proposal you will see that we propose numbers as you are mentioning.

    300-1,000 would be statistically representative of the target population if a) the vast majority of those selected by lot accepted the role, b) the remit of the jury was to listen to the evidence and then vote in secret and c) the term of service was short (ideally a new jury for each legislative “trial”). Unfortunately none of these criteria have been implemented to date by randomly-selected minipublics.

    Like

  31. Hi Paul,

    Regarding Van Reybrouck: If he supports instituting sortition via a referendum then his position on referenda seems close to what I understand is your position: they should not be used as a day-to-day tool for setting policy but can be used to set fundamental principles of the system.

    Regarding politicians expressing support for an allotted senate: I think that the devil here is in the details. We must advocate for a body that is powerful and independent so that it can become a counter-force to elected bodies rather than their servant. The politicians may have a very different idea in mind. That said, I would not rule out that some politicians do want to give the body some power – such as veto power – believing that that will serve their purposes.

    A-propos that, your idea for collaborating on writing criteria for the appropriate ways to use sortition in a democracy sounds very useful. How would you like to go about this?

    Like

  32. Hello Yoram,

    for the moment we only have the criteria we used to write our proposal. For now it is composed of 8 points and not very extensively elaborated. But we have to start somewhere. This does not mean that all points has to be followed for a sortition proposal, is a more a “checklist”. I think there exists something like this in French (I think it is from Sintomer) but it will be interesting to compare notes once it is finished.
    I can paste our draft here but when it becomes to extensive we have to exchange mails I suppose. paul.nollen@skynet.be
    Of course we can discuss it point by point and ameliorate the English language on the way.

    2017 02 10 EN is the version.

    Criteria for the application of sortition in a political system 017 02 10 EN

    A representation by sortition is defined as “democratic” while representation by election is defined as “aristocratic”.

    Sortition is a democratic instrument because this way people are represented by “his peers” while in an election system people are choosing for “the best” as “leader” (= electoral aristocracy).

    To illustrate the aristocratic nature (the best) of the electoral system, we can take the example of the buccaneers (maybe some romanticized)

    A hundred years before the French Revolution, the buccaneer companies were run on lines in which liberty, equality and fraternity were the rule. In a buccaneer camp, the captain was elected and could be deposed by the votes of the crew. The crew, and not the captain, decided whether to attack a particular ship, or a fleet of ships.

    The ancient Greeks (+/- 400 BC) used the electoral system for the designation of “the best”, namely to command the army. The legislative structures were based on democratic instruments, representation by sortition and the peoples assembly.
    The electoral system for legislative structures mainly finds its origin in the Roman Republic * 1.
    The ECHR (Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) only mentions the “right to free elections”. Democracy as a right is not mentioned throughout the convention. “Democratic elections” belongs to the misleading propaganda language of politicians and media.

    Sortition is a democratic instrument which, together with other democratic instruments and elements can be deployed in a democracy.

    1 – Basic Criteria

    Also, with sortition, the basic criteria, which are applicable in the referendum system stay valid:

    – Setting the political agenda by the citizens / initiative
    – Information and debate – transparency of public data
    – Decision

    2 – Sampling System

    Sortition systems can be complex, this increase the manipulation possibilities and errors.
    Even in simple transparent systems such as the mechanical lottery drum a bailiff is present. In the Netherlands (2014), there was a suspicion of manipulation in the digital lottery.

    The choice of the chosen system, and the details of implementation, has to be justified in function of the application.

    – The selected sample system must be simple (eg simple random sampling AES) and conducted in a professional manner.
    – The sampling procedures must be supervised.

    3 – Number of citizens appointed by sortition

    A further criteria is the number of citizens appointed by sortition. This number will determin the margin of error, the reliability and representativeness of the panel appointed by sortition.
    It may be that we pursue no representativeness for a particular application (eg G1000 Belgium: maximum diversity instead of representativity) or limited representativeness (eg Oregon Citizen Initiative Review: geographically and demographically representative).
    Of interest is also the “rotation” which is a must in a the democratic system. In turns govern and be governed is the essence in a democracy.

    – Depending on the representativeness
    – In function of the allowed margin of error on the results
    – In function of the reliability of the results
    – Depending on the desired rotation (large participation)
    – A large number of participants will be less susceptible to coercion and corruption and will also increase the likelihood that efforts to manipulation be reported more quickly.
    – The panel of citizens appointed by sortition has to be “a true image of society” as a whole.

    A properly implemented system with between 400 and 600 citizens is usually sufficient to ensure reliable operation. If there are less people this has to be justified in detail.

    4 – Time the citizens appointed by sortition are active

    An activity of short duration has several advantages. Longer times will therefore has to be weighed against the pros and cons. (Short = a day or several days, long = example: a legislative term)

    – Short period of time gives a great rotation and that way many participants.
    – Long period of time gives greater manipulation capabilities and low rotation
    – Long duration discriminates participants who can not afford a long absence, or do not wish to do so.
    – Long period of time may have a higher professionalism as a result, it has to be considered whether this is an advantage or disadvantage. Higher professionalism means that the panel differs from an “image” of society.

    5 – Right to Decide

    With panels who have only advisory jurisdiction have on average a participation rate of 2%. This means that if you ask 100 people to participate in such a panel, only 2 people will show up. This could not possibly be representative.
    It has been proven that when citizens have effective decision making power they are more likely to take part in such initiatives.
    In principle participation in a legislative panel appointed by sortition is obligatory (a civic duty). It will of course be difficult to enforce but there may be provided various measures that encourage participation (fee, guidance, motivation, ..). With voluntary participation, there is the risk of “professional participants” and (by civil society, businesses, interest groups, ..) paid participants.
    This way, the “image of society”, which is the basis of the jury system, is no longer valid.

    – It is of interest to increase the turnout and become really representative in order to speak of a democratic instrument.

    6 – Manipulation

    It would be an understatement to expect that the large financial and economic powers that now influence the political decisions would disappear when sortition is introduced in the political system.
    We have to anticipate that these powers will be redirected in order to maintain power. We can look at a system that we know and have long demonstrated its reliability (Belgium: at least until the recent changes): the people jury system in the juridical system * 2.
    A jury of 12 citizens designated by sortition (from the electoral registers) will decide about guilt or innocence. In comparison with our northern neighbors (the Netherlands), where the courts judge only by professional judges, it appears that the jury system is certainly not inferior for the quality of justice. We also see that both parties (guilt and innocence) can call witnesses and experts, completely independent of each other.
    Jury’s with mixed systems composed of professionals and citizens appointed by sortition give disappointing results. This is not surprising, such a panel is not at all “an image” of society.

    – Avoiding manipulation by “independent neutral employees”
    – Determining which experts and interested parties has to be invited
    – No composite panels of professional (ie politicians) and people appointed by sortition

    7 – Special applications are experimenting with so-called “deliberative” panels.

    A system that is used is to divide a big panel appointed by sortition, who heard the experts and interested parties, in small groups who discuss among themselves, under the supervision of “neutral facilitators”, the matters at hand. Then the whole group decide.
    Although this system has advantages of deliberation and discussion, this system has major risks of manipulation. Especially if it is not about non-binding “recommendations” but about decisions where billions of Euro’s ($)may be involved (some examples of corruption in Belgium: army shells, Agusta army helicopters, special waste containers, windmills in the North Sea, ..). It will thus depend on the application what can and what can’t work.
    We note in this regard to the appearance on the scene of the “participation industry” that accompanies in a professional way participative events (including universities). Hence also Terrill Bouricius in its design represents various “supervision Jury’s”.
    One must also must distinguish between the “satisfaction of the participants” and “results” that depend on other parameters.

    – Participants of panels appointed by sortition can, in principal, not discuss among themselves but just listen to the experts and stakeholders and vote afterwards.

    8 – One can also judge initiatives (with or without sortition) on the basis of the following criteria:
    cost – used sampling system / type of representation – outcome
    One will soon find out that retrieving these basic data is not easy.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    One of the great advantages of referendums (citizens’ initiative) is that all discussions and events take place in full public and are accessible to everyone. This freedom of participation and full disclosure we do not, or at least not to the same extent, find in the sortition system.

    http: //www.steekproefcalculator.com/steekproefcalculator.htm

    *1 https://www.amazon.co.uk/ Beasts-God-Democracy-Changed-Meaning / dp / 1783605421

    * 2 for what reason the French Revolution has established the jury system in criminal cases on september 3, 1791?

    “Ce que caractérise Ia cour d’assises, c’est l’indépendance de cette jurisdiction. Elle offre la garantie que les jurés, en raison de Ia durée momentanée de leurs fonctions, n’abuseront pas de leur autorité.”

    Translation:
    “What this juridical system features is offering the independence of this form of justice. A guarantee that jurors, because of the short duration of their duties, will not abuse their authority, .”

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Hi Paul,

    My email appears in the “about” page of this blog. I’d be happy to communicate through email, but as you point out, it is best to have “discussions and events take place in full public and are accessible to everyone”, so I suggest that we have the discussion on the blog so it is public.

    So how about that I set you up as a contributor to the blog and then you post the draft you posted here and we can continue the discussion in the comments there? I think this draft is very well written and can serve as a great starting point for the purpose you propose (although there are some points that I disagree with :)).

    I would also suggest that once we get to an agreed checklist, we aim to use it to rate the more well-known applications and proposals for application of sortition in government.

    I am sending you an invitation to join the blog as a contributor.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Yoram,
    I agree that a separate stand-alone post should be set up for this. I would also ask that you MODERATE the comments for this unique post for the sole purpose of avoiding the sort of meandering discussion people like me often get into in the comments section (responding to other comments, rather than the main topic).

    Like

  35. Thanks Yoram, I don’t know how all that works but I give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Thanks, Paul – I found your draft and I am making some formatting and linguistic touch-ups. I’ll ask you to review it again before I publish.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. For a full list of criteria, we should also add a pre-sortition capability weighing in the decision subject matter. I predict that without such an ennobling element, sortition will never ever succeed against electoral representatives.

    “Sample size” is written up highly problematic. The section pulls numbers out of the hat without considering due methodology. Fact is that in commercial sampling, sample size is highly dependent on the method and the mode of communication, the economic rationality of employing a certain sample size. This can start at 8 participants in a focus group, prediction markets need about 20, frequentist questionnaires continue to n=150 of quant consumer sample, the prescribe oversampling procedures for certai segments etc etc. There is no size fits all.

    Further it must take into consideration that even if sampling is right, the decision might still be wrong. It does not make sense to reduce sampling error in decimals when the underlying decision error is in the tens of percents. We can work and live with much smaller samples than some of the big numbers I see creeping in here.

    Like

  38. HJH:

    >Further it must take into consideration that even if sampling is right, the decision might still be wrong.

    Remarks like this indicate the unbridgeable gulf between demarchy and democracy. To paraphrase John Burnheim, democracy is neither possible nor desirable — as it might lead to the “wrong” decision. Plato is still alive and kicking in the streets of Sydney and Vienna but is a strange bedfellow for this blog!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: