2011 review – sortition-related events

In response to my call for suggestions of mention-worthy occurrences relevant to the topics discussed on this blog, George Tridimas wrote to let me know that his paper Constitutional choice in ancient Athens: The rationality of selection to office by lot has made for a couple of weeks the list of 10 most downloaded articles from the SSRN repository in the categories of Welfare Economics & Collective Decision-Making, of History of Political Thought and of Models of Political Processes.

To me, two significant sortition-related developments that occurred this year, happened at two opposite sides of the mass-elite spectrum.

On the elite side, the newDemocracy foundation in Australia has been active in promoting policy juries and successful in garnering some press attention (1, 2). The main force behind this foundation, both intellectually and financially, it appears, is Luca Belgiorno-Nettis.

On the other hand, there have been several attempts to promote and use sortition associated with the global protest movement – the so-called Arab Spring, the Indignados, the Occupy Wall Street movement, etc. Back in February, Sa’ada Abu Bakr suggested sortition to the Egyptian revolutionaries. In June, the Greek activists in Syntagma Square were using randomization to distribute speaking turns. The idea of citizen councils appointed by lot was also featured in some May 15th platforms in Spain and in September a party which had the implementation of sortition as its main goal was organizing there. That party ultimately failed to qualify for the ballot. Finally, the People’s Senate Party promotes sortition in Canada.

Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2012.