Roberto Barabino writes the following:
“Le Forme della politica” (Forms of Politics, abbr. FDP) is a an Italian non-partisan association whose objective is to analyze the forms, i.e. the rules of the game and the conceptual premises of the political decisions, in order to make proposals and take action for their improvement. The FDP is based on the teachings of the philosopher Giuseppe Polistena, who is also a co-founder of the association. He intends to correct “Aristotle’s mistake” (his statement that “the man is a political animal”), because politics is the pursuit of the common good and this is not a natural attribute of men and women, but requires a difficult effort in order to be achieved.
The FDP was founded in 2012 and up until 2016 focused on the Italian political sphere. The main themes were: the criteria necessary to guarantee the democratic functioning of political parties, the differences between institutional and political leadership, the limits to parliamentary mandates, and the study of foreign experiences regarding direct democracy and participation.
In 2016 we read and discussed David Van Reybroucks’s outstanding book “Against elections” that showed the intrinsic weaknesses of the electoral-representative democracy and proposed a bi-representative democracy in which sortition plays a relevant role. This was the inspiration for creating the international branch of our association, called “Improving Democracy” (ID), and to launch the “International Sortition Project” (ISP), in which we propose that a small proportion (e.g., 10%) of the members of the elective assemblies at various levels (parliament, regional council, town council, etc.) should be reserved for citizens, who will be able to put themselves forward as candidates for such roles without being part of an organized political force.
Our first aim is to inform the top institutional and political leaders about this opportunity, then continue by informing the leaders of the intermediate bodies of civil society and those citizens that could share an interest in the political “forms”. We started with some Western countries in which an uneasiness about politics was particularly evident. Information should be the basis for building a network made by intermediate bodies’ representatives and citizens without ideological bias in order to gradually influence the political environment.
Our approach is largely inspired by Van Reybrouck’s ideas and by the experiments carried out in many countries and cited in his book. However, we introduce an innovation: the concept of the “qualified draw”, which takes into serious consideration the main objection posed to the use of sortition, i.e. the risk of having incompetent people in delicate public roles. “Qualified draw” means that, after a random or stratified selection among volunteers, the candidates emerging from it can be sifted in order to verify if they have the minimum requirements to cover the role. This kind of sortition is compared to others in a document recently sent to the above mentioned interlocutors.