“An Italian Road to Randomocracy”

The latest on sortition from Italy (this time in English)–


The proposal is rather complex, and perhaps worth discussing here.

11 Responses

  1. For me this is disappointing and defeats the purpose. It is back to elitism, “the better qualified.” In ancient Athens, in the fifth century, there were no “better qualified” who voted in the Assembly. Any citizen, regardless of “motivation or awareness” was welcome.

    “approximately half a million, rotating, term hypercitizens, randomly selected for six months out of the better qualified part of the population: out of the persons who are more educated, or more work-experienced, or more motivated and aware, or more civic/humanitarian-minded than the average. Anybody should be included who can prove by exams to be fit to act as “term sovereign citizen”. A high body of the judiciary should decide whether persons not possessing factually demonstrable qualifications should, on application and exam, be included in the roll of rotating hyper citizens.”


  2. You would well serve your argument to extract the Venetian statuti of a constitutional character from 1268 when Venice adopted a sortition system for selecting their doge that lasted 529 years. After the relevant statuti are extracted and arranged, they should be translated into English. Arguably that was the first Italian constitution following the Medieval Era, and it should be studied. Let me know if this is done.


  3. Arthur,

    Yes, they make the classic conflation of legislative and administrative competence. Setting aside for the moment the problem of who should decide who is adequately “competent,” the competence to decide WHAT should be done is something that ALL are inherently qualified to contribute to. Some members may be slow-witted and some brilliant, but they can employ competent drafters, economists, et. al. as desired. It is the diverse mix that is fully representative of the population that is key for democracy AND for optimal decision making, rather than “expertness.” This is different from administrative competence, which may be more specialized — the competence of working out the nitty-gritty of the best way to accomplish what has been democratically decided as a goal. Of course those administrative experts (professional civil service) need to be under the control of a representative body as well.

    By the way Arthur, I read your book recently, and enjoyed it. You might be curious to know that the Vermont Constitution was based on the 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution and retained many provisions for generations (and a few still today).


  4. Terry,

    Thank you for your comment. And thank you for taking the trouble to read my book. I certainly value readers like yourself who are imbued with the subject matter and truly on the side of democracy.


    P.S. Encouraging to learn that Vermont picked up on the Pennsylvania Constitution.


  5. Terry,

    Should you be so inspired, I certainly have no objections to your writing a review on goodreads.com.

    Should you so decide, I thank you in advance.



  6. > who should decide who is adequately “competent,”

    It seems that Calderazzi and the Milan-based Research Unit on Direct Democracy get to decide.


  7. I have written a rather comprehensive critique of the U.S. Constitution called, “The Constitutional Hoax.” It has been posted today at “Intrepid Report.com.” I would very much like to your comments. Here is the link:




  8. *** Calderazzi’s proposal reminds us that sortition can be used in the perspective of aristokratia. But I doubt this proposal can be considered as a serious political model for the century to come. Disenfranchising openly half of the civic community, and giving top power to a narrow elite, that was a realistic proposal in ancient times, mainly because of three factors : lack of literacy in the lower classes, traditional deference towards the dominant classes, authoritarian and inegalitarian traditions in social life (in the World of Tradition, inequality was the rule, equality a motivated exception). In Modern Times, open mass disenfranchising is impossible, the regime will have such a lack of legitimacy that the first deep problems would lead to civic strife and to violence. Calderazzi’s proposal is an utopian one. Power can be taken from the mass of citizens, and it is – but not by open mass disenfranchising.
    *** This proposal, actually, is not so strange. It is a rather naive expression of the intense feelings of contempt for the lesser citizens which can be so easily found in our societies and are probably the main obstacle to a modern dêmokratia.


  9. Andre,

    > *** This proposal, actually, is not so strange. It is a rather naive expression of the intense feelings of contempt for the lesser citizens which can be so easily found in our societies and are probably the main obstacle to a modern dêmokratia.

    Right – I encounter this attitude quite often, at various levels of explicitness, when I suggest the idea of sortition to people. As you write, this attitude is more consistent with a fully oligarchical worldview than with a modern electoral ideology – see my post here.


  10. Greetings Arthur!

    Thank you very much for your critique. It is the best critique on “the Constitution of September 17, 1787” that I’ve seen so far. I was inspired some hours ago to search for the truth regarding the alleged “replacement” of the Articles of Confederation by “this Constitution” and you have certainly contributed substantially to that objective!

    I have a special interest to see additional documentation specifically regarding the following.:

    “… Madison, himself, was part of a secret conclave, involved in extra-legal activity to replace a legally established government under the Articles of Confederation with a new government under the Constitution.”

    Elsewhere I read that it is well known that Hamilton wanted a complete replacement of the Articles however my search for documentation about that has not been fruitful so far. I will be all the more grateful if you can point out where I may find this kind of material.

    I wish you all the more greater happiness!

    ~Chef Jemichel


  11. I am a little confused about the Chef Jemichel comment. It seems out of context, but I am happy he is open to a critical evaluation of the U.S. Constitution.

    I have written a lengthy piece which includes using sortition to select candidates for higher office. I would be interested in hearing a response.


    Arthur D. Robbins


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