Spectator call for nomothetai to decide Britain’s membership of the EU

Sir: Peter Jones (25 May) is right to draw an unfavourable comparison between ancient and modern democracy, but he is focusing on the wrong institution. The Athenian council was merely the secretariat for the general assembly, and the legislation passed by the assembly was often as erratic as modern referenda. After the restoration of democracy in 403 bc, legislation was entrusted to nomothetai — large randomly selected juries that, unlike modern parliamentarians, were obliged to listen to the arguments of well-informed advocates for and against the proposed law before deciding the outcome by secret vote

If David Cameron wants the people do decide. . .

read on: http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-week/letters/8921081/letters-285/

This proposal, written in response to André Sauzeau’s proposal for minimal reforms, was submitted as an article (see below) and originally accepted for publication by the Spectator, but ended up cut down into a short letter. The Spectator website has a comments section, so suggest we use that as an opportunity to kick-start the conversation on sortition there, rather than commenting on this forum.

Full article:

Put the EU on Trial

By Keith Sutherland

The answer to Britain’s EU problem is not a public referendum, it’s an adversarial judicial inquiry in front of a large citizen jury, selected by lot

The success of UKIP in the recent elections has led to unprecedented soul searching within the political class in general and the Conservative Party in particular, with no fewer than three former cabinet ministers arguing that Britain should leave the EU. David Cameron has committed the party to a referendum on EU membership, but the public often just use referenda as an excuse to put two fingers up to the government. There is an urgent need to find a more reliable mechanism to allow the people to make a well-informed decision on what is arguably the most important issue in contemporary politics.
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