Deliberative Democracy failure?

Help! The following headline appeared in the (UK) Guardian newspaper. It’s about Germany, and seems to be saying that DD was used, but failed.

Was DD used here? OR are they trying to say it should have been?


Stuttgart 21 is a failure of deliberative democracy

The lack of dialogue on plans to redevelop Stuttgart’s train station has led to a loss of faith in the political system

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Promotion by Lot

Haven’t had a chance to read the study described here yet…

Study: Most Efficient Organizations Grab Random Employees, Promote Them

…but it does deal with a fascinating problem. If you promote the best people, the argument goes, you will keep promoting people to tougher and tougher jobs until they no longer excel at them. The result will be an organization full of people stuck in positions for which they’re not particularly qualified. So says the Peter Principle, for which I can claim no credit. I’d be curious of the details as to how exactly the argument works, but the implications are striking. If you randomized the process of putting people into more difficult positions, it would seem odd to call it “promoting” them anymore. The latter term seems inherently related to merit or desert. It would then seem better just to say that the more difficult jobs (i.e., jobs requiring higher levels of competence) are reassigned by lot. (Should this happen periodically? Good question, but one I cannot answer until I actually get around to reading the study.)

Citizens’ assembly in Ireland recommended

Harald Korneliussen points out the following development:

Oireachtas [the Irish parliament, -YG] Joint Committee on the Constitution recommends significant changes to the implementation of the PR-STV Electoral System in this country

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Constitution, in a report on the electoral system published today, recommends substantial changes to the operation of the PR-STV electoral system in Ireland which it considers would significantly improve its functioning.

It presents 29 recommendations for improving the system. Areas identified where improvements are required include: the level of women’s representation; the voting age; the filling of casual vacancies; the transfer of surplus votes; ease of access to the ballot on election day; the number of seats that are contested in each constituency; the manner in which constituency boundaries are drawn; the filling of casual vacancies in Dáil Éireann; and the proportionality of vote share to seat share.

The Committee underlines the importance of legitimacy in any electoral reform process and recommends that citizens should be given every opportunity to play a part in choosing the system by which they elect their representatives.

It proposes the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly to examine the electoral system in Ireland, and, if it deems that reform is necessary, to propose change.

Support for sortition from death row

Mumia Abu-Jamal read C. L. R. James and made a recording advocating sortition:

“Representation and Randomness,” Part One

I finally got around to reading “Representation and Randomness,” a collection of papers that appeared in the most recent issue of the journal Constellations (volume 17, number 3, September 2010). One paper in that collection, by Alex Zakaras, has already gotten some attention here, but I thought it worth adding some comments on the entire collection.

Philip Pettit’s “Representation, Responsive and Indicative” distinguishes (obviously) between responsive and indicative representation. A responsive representative does what I want because I can direct the representative to do what I want. An indicative representative does what I want because the representative is chosen in such a way that the representative does what I would have done were I present. In Pettit’s words, “In responsive representation, the fact that I am of a certain mind offers reason for expecting that my deputy will be of the same mind…In indicative representation things are exactly the other way around. The fact that my proxy is of a certain mind offers reason for expecting that I will be of the same mind…” (p. 427). Sortition can select indicative representatives, whereas election is supposed to select responsive representatives. But both are legitimate forms of representation, and we might find appropriate uses for each of them.

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Lottery and Legislative Powers: A Reply to Yoram Gat

In his recent blog post, “The Elected Legislator’s Burden,” Yoram Gat challenges one of the arguments of my essay, “Lot and Democratic Representation.”  In that essay, I argue that the U.S. Senate (along with state Senates) should be abolished and replaced with a citizens’ chamber, with its members chosen by lottery. In short, I propose that we preserve bicameral legislatures, but with one chamber filled through election and the other by lot. I argue, however, that the citizens’ chamber should have fewer powers and responsibilities than the elective chamber. It should have the power to veto any legislation ratified by the elective chamber; it should also have the power to draw district boundaries for the elective chamber and to compel a floor vote in that chamber on any legislation introduced there.

            Gat challenges my reluctance to grant the citizens’ chamber “full parliamentary powers – to set its own agenda, initiate legislation and draft its own legislative proposals.”  He suggests that citizens chosen by lottery are capable of wielding these powers responsibly—or, at least, that there is every reason to expect that they will do so as responsibly as elected legislators. He lays out several arguments in support of this claim, and I will consider each in turn.

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