Sortition and multiple authorities

There are often powerful considerations in favour of having distinct authorities with distinct jurisdictions and constitutions and procedures to address certain problems that are not well treated if approached from the point of view of the state, whether that word refers to nation-states or members of a federation.

An obvious case is that of a river system that impinges on many states in a long chain from the sources of the various streams that contribute to it to its final discharge into the sea, if it gets that far. What each state does or permits in the light of its own interests often impinges on many of the others, particularly those nearer to the end of the chain. One solution where all the states in question are part of the same federation is simply to hand the problems of conflicting interests over to the feds, who should be able to take an impartial view.

In practice that is often unsatisfactory. It may reduce the riverine interests to pawns in federal politics. It may lead to federal meddling in the whole range of state interests in land management to the detriment of those interests. Different federal authorities may intervene in ways that are influenced more by a desire to have a uniform policy on some matter across the federation than by attention to the particular problems of that river system. So it seems most desirable to have an authority that is focussed on arriving at good solutions to the complex problems, ecological, commercial, recreational and developmental that it throws up. In ensuring a balanced input into the decision processes of such an authority sortition on various bases is likely to give better results than standard voting practices. It is not just a matter of the divergent interests of the states, but of balancing various ecological considerations against each other and against a variety of commercial or consumer interests. I’ll return to this point below.

Continue reading

First meeting of Sortition Ireland

Garreth McDaid has announced the first meeting of an organization he calls “Sortition Ireland”. The meeting is to take place in Dublin on April 12th at 8pm. Virtual attendance will also be possible.

[Via Google Alerts.]