Michael Donovan: Political Sortition for an Evolving World

Michael Donovan has written his Master’s thesis about sortition:

Our Western political systems are straining to prove their legitimacy partly because the internet generation demands both open information and a role in the decision making. Yet, electoral democracy may be incapable of evolving to meet those requirements. This paper looks at sortition, or the selection of decision makers by lottery, to supplement or to replace current representative democracy. Empowering a cross-section of society to make policy decisions would more directly address the interests and concerns of the populace, and would result in an egalitarian and inclusive body, more transparent and resistant to corruption than are current policy makers. Furthermore, diverse assemblies possess greater ability in solving difficult problems and in making accurate forecasts than do the more homogeneous groups that currently comprise governing parties. Consensus building increases this innovative potential. With the proper application of sortition and deliberation, therefore, advancement in the common good can be accelerated.

Keywords: Sortition; consensus building; deliberative democracy; open source software; activism