Wilding’s Multibody Sortition in the UK

In a Huffington Post article a few days ago, Martin Wilding introduced the public to the idea of allotted panels and assemblies in a scheme somewhat similar to that of Terry Bouricius. He addressed the typical objections to sortition and urged people to organize local meetups to discuss the idea.

Wilding calls for local Community Assemblies consisting of deliberative Forums and voting Plebiscaries, a judicial Advocacy, and a Citizen’s Advice Bureau–mostly selected by lot I believe.

What if you could vote to exchange your right to vote for an equal opportunity to participate directly in government? How about if that meant an end to the political parties of which the data suggests you’re unlikely to be a member and the career politicians in whom opinion polls suggest you have no trust?


The status quo is not sacrosanct. The rules by which we are governed are not set in stone. If you feel your representatives don’t, in fact, represent you, you have the means to change the system that keeps them in business.

Or you could just carry on voting for the least unappealing option and hope that somehow things will change of their own accord.

There were a few comments on the comment thread of the article. I haven’t seen if there have been any responses elsewhere online. This could be a good place to discuss the scheme suggested and the article’s reception.

4 Responses

  1. >Wilding calls for local Community Assemblies consisting of deliberative Forums and voting Plebiscaries, a judicial Advocacy, and a Citizen’s Advice Bureau–mostly selected by lot I believe.

    Note that in Martin’s proposal the role of sortition in selecting advocates is limited to deciding which legislative debate to assign them to (it’s a prophylactic, rather than a representative mechanism), the Advocacy is staffed entirely by a quasi-judicial elite. Where I would disagree with him is the randomly-selected deliberative Forums (a breach of isegoria); the size of each body (not statistically representative) and the multiplicity of allotted bodies (exceeds the rational ignorance threshold). Apart from that the proposal looks fairly sound — it respects the need for mixed government but fails to grasp the isegoria nettle. Sortition theorists resort to desperate measures to exclude any function for elected politicians (I was just as guilty when I started off 10 years ago), which is a shame as it ensures that the turkeys won’t vote for Christmas. Why do we go to such lengths to decry the modern equivalent of the freedom to advise the citizenry that is a prerequisite to any kind of democracy?


  2. Ahmed, thanks for pointing this out.

    In a post last year (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/martin-wilding-davies/political-revolution_b_4280296.html), Wilding referred to a more detailed proposal called New Model Democracy (http://www.ordinarypeople.org.uk/new_model_democracy). Here’s his summary,

    “A straightforward, non-hierarchical network of community assemblies replaces the present anachronistic mishmash of national, regional and local government. Each assembly has two allotted chambers, a deliberative policy forum and a majoritarian ‘plebisary’ where legislation is approved or rejected by a simple yes/no vote. To ensure that each position is represented equally in debate and to prevent corruption by vested interests, evidence is presented to the assemblies according to fixed protocols by ‘advocates’ (specialist lawyers) selected at random from regional pools. The decisions of multiple assemblies are aggregated – on a local, regional or national basis depending upon the extent of the matter being decided – to arrive at an outcome that represents the ‘will of the people’.”


  3. PS “Martin Wilding” is Martin Wilding Davies, who used to be a frequent commentator on this site.


  4. What a refreshing panorama of how things could be done differently…and better!
    Thank you and congratulations Mr. Davies on your wit and insight (and thanks Yoram for your ongoing diligence in bringing us ‘randomistas’ together).
    And credit must also go to my fellow Australian John Burnheim for inventing demarchy.
    Luca Belgiorno-Nettis


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