Papirblat: Getting selected to the Belgian Senate via the lottery

Shlomo Papirblat reports from Brussels in the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz”:

A proposal to select the members of the Belgian Senate at random gains surprising support from politicians in Brussels. The chairperson of the socialist party: “Traditional politics is ailing and new ways have to be considered.”

Senior politicians in Brussels are supporting a legislative reform that could revolutionize Belgian democracy: according to the plan members of the Senate – the upper chamber of the nation’s parliament – would be selected in a lottery that would be held once every four years among the citizenry. The chairperson of the socialist party in the Belgian parliament, Laurette Onkelinx, a former vice prime minister, is saying that “traditional politics is ailing and new ways have to be considered.”

In an interview prominently published Wednesday in the highly regarded “Le Soir” Onkelinx explains that “today’s politicians are generally required to get involved in burning social issues but they are behind – they can’t keep up. On the other hand, more and more grassroot and activist-developed social initiatives are involved in generating solutions.” When addressing the question of who can democracy of “professionals” can be combined with present-day requirements, she said that she thinks that “sortition needs to be adopted to bring normal people to the legislature, at least half the members of the house.”

Parliament members standing outside the federal parliament building in Brussels, 2012

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