Students in Bolivia Prefer Sortition to Elections

Here’s the abstract for an interesting new article, “Democracy Transformed: Perceived Legitimacy of the Institutional Shift from Election to Random Selection of Representatives,” in Journal of Public Deliberation:


Simon Pek, Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria

Jeffrey Kennedy, Faculty of Law, McGill University

Adam Cronkright, Democracy In Practice


“While democracy remains a firmly-held ideal, the present state of electoral democracy is plagued by growing disaffection. As a result, both scholars and practitioners have shown considerable interest in the potential of random selection as a means of selecting political representatives. Despite its potential, deployment of this alternative is limited by concerns about its perceived legitimacy. Drawing on an inductive analysis of the replacement of elections with random selection in two student governments in Bolivia, we explore stakeholders’ perceptions of the legitimacy of random selection by investigating both their overall support for randomly selecting representatives as well as the views that inform this support. Overall, we find that random selection is indeed accepted as a legitimate means of selecting representatives, with stakeholders broadly preferring random selection and recommending its use in other schools—views which are informed by a critical assessment of random selection’s relative merits. Moreover, we find that perceptions may be affected by contextual factors that extend beyond individuals’ own values. Our findings thus contribute to work on random selection, its contextual embeddedness, and on the values underpinning democratic structures.”

Link to download the article:


3 Responses

  1. I’ll leave this here: “while 40% opposed a fully randomly selected chamber in comparison with 29% in support, 47% supported a mixed chamber, with only 25% opposed”.


  2. Arturo, sortition takes getting used to if you’ve lived your entire life in an electoralist society.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this paper, Jonathan.

    With regards to functional appointments – i.e. persons who shall perform continuous work for the community, as opposed to making collective decisions – we seem to experience, we observe a polarity: each “pure” process just by itself creates serious and undeniable issues.

    A well-designed mix of sortition and election warrants more attention from us. (And rotation.)

    An interesting study on such a method-mix explains the mathematics and features regarding the lifetime position of Doge of Venice:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: