The allotment for the convention of La France insoumise has started

La France insoumise (“France Uprising”, FI) is a Left-wing French political party which was founded in 2016. In the 2017 presidential elections its candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, won almost 20% of the votes in the first round and narrowly missed making it to the second round. FI has presented a platform it calls L’Avenir en commun one plank in which is having a constitutional convention where a certain proportion of the delegates would be selected by lot.

FI is now in the process of having its own internal convention “for setting its new objectives, improving its tools and modes of action and specifying its principles of organization.” This process involves allotting delegates to the convention. FI has now announced that it has sent invitations to those allotted:

The first phase of the sortition has taken place. A list of the first 1,200 people has been drawn. Each one of those people has received a registration form. Those women and men who fill out the form before November 13th will participate in the convention. The unclaimed slots will be redistributed in the second phase of the sortition on Friady, November 10th. There is therefore time for you to participate in the allotment if have done so yet.

P.S.: For the curious, here is the script which we used to implement the sortition.

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19 Responses

  1. There is no time any;ore that is quite a shame. Yet it is a big start, next year there might be more advertising beforehand. Meanwhile I am in contact with other geeks on the github repo of the code used to sort. I guess that if one wants to use it again it needs to be bulletproof.

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  2. BTW I set a Discord server to discuss about sortition (quite a success among the insoumis) in a more interactive way (for facebook non-lover) to join it https://discord.gg/qt4G89u

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  3. *** “La France insoumise” is clearly a political movement of the populist kind. A left wing populism, sure, even if Mélenchon avoids now the word “left” and openly tries to attract a part of Le Pen followers.
    *** Sortition clearly has some appeal in left populism. There are sortition leanings in Spanish Podemos. I don’t know if we can see something among Sanders followers in the USA.

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  4. *** I am on the Discord from France Insoumise and they are not particularly fond of sortition (particularly people in a position of power within this party). I think this sortition idea was not coming from Melenchon (and he might not have been happy about it). I found this info after some digging.
    *** Why do you think “right” movements do not like sortition?

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  5. As far as I know, right wing populisms are often fond of referenda, but I don’t know about sortition leanings in them. For Establishment right wing parties, I have no information about any sortition proposal. Conversely we had such proposals from the left, if by somewhat eccentric politicians, as Ségolène Royal and her “Citizen juries”, or Montebourg about the Senate. Therefore, at least for now, some dissymetry appears between the right and the left sides.

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  6. Andre,
    There is no awareness of sortition at all among political activists of the left or right in the U.S. I made a suggestion to some organizers of the Sanders organization called “Our Revolution” to consider it for a governing council, but got no response (and I happen to be a decades-long political ally and personal friend of Bernie).

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  7. @Andre>> “As far as I know, right wing populisms are often fond of referenda…”

    I can confirm this theory for Austria’s right wing FPÖ party. They are pushing hard for mandatory referenda. Andre, can you expand on your reasons or observations underlying your general statement?

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  8. Terry:> There is no awareness of sortition at all among political activists of the left or right in the U.S.

    Why do you think that is Terry? It’s getting to be pretty well known in Britain and Europe.

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  9. *** The taste of rightwing populisms for referenda is not only Austrian. I think it is Europe-wide.
    *** In France the rightwing populist movement Front National advocates “true democracy” through proportional representation and referenda. For the movement usual call for referendum, look for “referendum” on the site http://www.frontnational.com.
    *** When the eccentric politician Ségolène Royal proposed in October 2006 a system of allotted “citizen juries” to oversee the representatives, a majority of polled French citizens did approve; and especially a majority of Front National voters; of Ecologists, too (another anti-Establishment constituency); at this time there was no leftwing populist movement. But the heads of the Front national were as strongly and stridently against the proposal as all the political class. I don’t know about a change (I acknowledge I don’t follow closely).

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  10. *** Caze thinks the sortition idea “was not coming from Mélenchon” and that “he might not have been happy about it”. Well, at least he left the idea going into the program of France Insoumise, even if the wording was not very clear.
    *** I don’t know Mélenchon’s personal feelings. But let’s consider the logics of legitimacy. The “France insoumise” endeavor implies – in the name itself – an uprising against dominating social models, which cannot be hoped for without some strong legitimacy.
    *** “Messianic ideology” was a legitimacy for the Jacobins, and Mélenchon, who liked to refer to Robespierre, is sometimes said by analysts to be a “neo-Jacobin”. But we are no more in 18th century, where France was the central Hyper-Power and could be seen as able to push the World into another era. Furthermore, messianic legitimacies were called upon by 20th century totalitarianisms which did not leave good memories.
    *** “Charismatic legitimacy” could work for De Gaulle, given his historical role as the head of the “France Libre”, or to Napoléon III, as nephew of Napoléon the Great (family charisma!). Mélenchon has some personal charisma, but that is not enough.
    *** A strong and new democratic legitimacy through sortition could be a potent source of strength for “La France Insoumise”, a source which takes Mélenchon both away of the frightful Lenin image and away from the alternative image of an electoralist politician like the others.
    *** If we consider sortition not for sovereign power but inside the movement itself, it may be useful for limiting the crystallization of internal factions, as election generates factions (through alliances to get elected). The risk is maybe especially high for a movement which is the most diverse of all, either from the ethno-racial point of view or the social class point of view (in last presidential Mélenchon got more or less the same percent in every class, except the upper 1%).

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  11. Melenchon’s attitude is only to be expected. Left, Center or Right, it would take a particularly self-sacrificing politician to set up a system where significant power is held by an allotted body. Successful politicians have worked long and hard to attain their power. Unless they are willing to give up their life’s ambition, they won’t embrace sortition as a tool for sharing their power but either see it as something to be avoided altogether or as a tool for increasing that power.

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  12. This makes me think of an apolitical use of sortition. It could be used in any event where the number seats are limited (concerts, festival, basically all events). The method that is often is first served, first come. This would dramatically impact multiple things like black market. It seems like an intrinsically fair thing to do. Wonder if something like that has already been implemented? Would be cool for instance to have it for Glastonbury festival.

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  13. A friend told me there was a similar allotment for the Olympic Games in London.

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  14. *** What Terry Bouricius said (November 20) about “no awareness of sortition at all among political activists of the left or right in the U.S” is very interesting and, for somebody as me who has no real knowledge of USA, puzzling.
    *** Because, for me, the USA was the country of creative thinkers who developed ideas leaning towards democracy-through-minipublics, at a time no French intellectual was considering the idea (including intellectuals interested by the ancient democracy model, as Castoriadis or Vidal-Naquet). Especially the USA was the country of Dahl, with his model of minipopulus, which, even if it was proposed as a consultative body, was clearly a bold step towards democracy-through-minipublics, with the word minipopulus itself, the detailed draft getting the model out of the fantasy world, the explanation of the minipopulus’ democratic legitimacy. Actually the democracy-through-minipublics was only one step further, the step of giving effective power to the minipopulus, and this step came to the mind of any reader.
    *** Which may be the causes of this strange discrepancy? A specific US divide between the kind of intellectual sphere Dahl belonged, and the contemporary militant sphere ? Or the idea among the militants that the US public would react strongly against any idea of this kind ? A discrepancy between original thinkers and a public stuck to late 18th century world, the world of the birth of the nation and likewise the world of sortition vanishing? Or ?

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  15. Andre,

    It seems that the gap between a consultative body (thought of as “citizen participation”) and a powerful decision making body is much wider than you take it to be. The Fishkin Deliberative Polling (TM)-style body is quite well known in academic circles in the US, I believe, but it seems that no one, very much including Fishkin himself, sees it as a path toward having an allotted governing body.

    It may be that the 70’s were a different time in the US, and it may be that Dahl, being a rather towering figure in US political science, could do what his peers cannot. In any case, in the current atmosphere in the US, political scientists are not a progressive or transformative force but are rather servants of the status quo, spending their time and effort justifying existing power structures and elite ideas and agendas.

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  16. Yoram:> In any case, in the current atmosphere in the US, political scientists are not a progressive or transformative force but are rather servants of the status quo.

    That’s the opposite of what Terry and Andre were saying, as they were puzzled as to why political activists in the US had no interest in sortition. Personally I’m relieved as, judging by many of the comments on this forum, activists only serve to discredit the serious work done by Jim Fishkin and others seeking to improve our existing political arrangements, rather than making siren calls for the end of electoralism and other such millenarian nonsense. If I were an activist I would be interested in exploring the potential of the DP for a powerful decision body, rather than dismissing its architect and principal advocate as an establishment lickspittle. I also think Dahl would be proud of the achievements of his former student at Yale.

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  17. Following question by hjhofkirchner about right wing populist parties and referenda.
    *** Rightwing populist parties are fond of referenda, but not of sortition. It seems general. I will suggest some hypotheses, from French experience.
    *** First, I remind that, when in France Ségolène Royal proposed “citizen” juries with overview powers, in polls a majority approved, but especially the Front National voters. The (very strong) refusal came from the leadership. The party elite do not seem to have a leaning towards sortition. Thus, the problem is with the leadership and the party elite, not with the voters (in France).
    *** Why? I think that remains in them a kernel of “hard right”, with strong anti-egalitarian and authoritarian values. They don’t like sortition which displays so openly equality. In referenda, even if there is equal suffrage, equality is somewhat less provocative; and the mass, simple, binary votes look somewhat like the mass plebiscites that authoritarian rightist movements like to get legitimacy (e.g. Bonapartism in France). Furthermore, rightwing populisms propose policies somewhat simple, which may be opposed to the Establishment unpopular policies, and which are good material for binary referendum votes. Minipublics would be able to have preferential votes, or multiples votes, and to be much less prone than referenda to oversimplification.

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  18. More about rightwing sensitivities and sortition.
    *** As for the Establishment circles, they dislike usually the sortition idea because they refuse democracy-through- minipublics. But some are interested by a use of unrepresentative allotted panels against populist pressure through vote (Rosanvallon’s polyphony). This temptation will be less frequent in the rightwing of Establishment, not very fond of anything looking egalitarian, even if it is bogus.
    *** The divide in our societies into leftwing and rightwing political sensitivities must not be exaggerated – some important dimensions cannot be reduced to the right-left axis – but it has nevertheless some reality. The basic egalitarian character of sortition probably explains that we find cases of support for any kind of sortition much more in the left side than on the right side.
    *** Strong support for sortition may appear nevertheless in “conservative” circles which are deeply upset by the trend of “advanced” fractions of the culture elite towards dissolving all traditional mental structures and of the business elite to think only of economic issues. To them, sortition equality may appear as giving strength to the ordinary “decent common citizen”.
    *** When I was young, in the 1968 events, when the French culture elite and the streets were dominated by the ultra-leftish discourse (if not deep ideas), I remember one exasperated Gaullist (a professor in a Paris university, I think; I am sorry, I don’t remember the name) who proposed an allotted Parliament, to give voice to the ordinary Frenchmen. He hoped for a strong voice against the Trotskyites, Maoists, Anarchists etc., with their red or black flags. It was I think one of the first proposals of democracy-through-minipublics, and it was on the rightwing.

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  19. […] were politicians who made sortition part of the political agenda. In November, La France insoumise allotted members of its constitutional convention. Sortition was also discussed, again and again in French media. […]

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