Delanoi: Sortition does not replace elections, it complements them

Simon Blin interviews Gil Delanoi in the Liberation. Original in French.

Gil Delanoi, a researcher at Sciences-Po, a sortition expert, promotes this procedure as a fundamental improvement of the democratic system, provided that it is used in an ad-hoc fashion. [Editor’s note: This sub-headline seems to be a misrepresentation of Delanoi’s position – see below. – YG.]

Gil Delannoi, professor at Sciences-Po and researcher at Cevipof, has just published a new book Sortition: how should it be used? (Sciences-Po Press). According to him, this procedure, if it is well-established, could improve the representation of the diversity of the electorate.

How can sortition cure the malaise of democratic representation and participation?

As opposed to voting, sortition does not aggregate voices but rather subsamples people from a group in order to delegate a task to them, whether a deliberative, an advisory or a decision-making task. From this perspective, sortition complements voting because it allows breaking out of the legislative logic where only representatives make the law and are concerned with it and where the administration applies it. This way, sortition does not replace elections but completes them. It is certainly possible to combine the two processes.

What form should it take?

Sortition is adaptable. There are at least as many ways to allot as there are to vote. It all depends on the objective that is sought. Sortition can be mandatory or volutary. In the first case it is a duty, in the other it is a right. The size of the sample is also very important. If the allotment aims to construct a mirror of the population, it is preferable to have a large number of people involved in order to create a detailed picture. That said, even if we allot a few people, we already a sample that is more representative than that of a simple vote, particularly in terms of age, gender and profession. We may need allotments of size 10,000 or 1,000 people. Logically, the larger the number the more accurate is the representation. In the case of court juries, where sortition is regularly used in France, it is evident that the group must be able to really have a discussion. Here the optimal size is on the order of 10 to 50 people. The larger the sample, the more difficult this is.

Is there a risk of demagoguery?

Sortition must be circumscribed. The allotted would not be organizing the allotment themselves. They cannot manage themselves. Rather, in a democracy, the procedure guarantees impartiality and equality. The risk associated with sortition is very low. It would be more worrisome to use this practice in an authoritarian or dictatorial regime, where the citizens act under constraints and fear of repression.

Will this practice persist?

Is some domains, yes. Are we talking only about legislation? Or about going beyond that? In any case, there is no substantial obstacle. It is a question of practical arrangements and of political will. It would require that the elected representatives would be able to feel that it is a beneficial influence upon them and upon the legislation. In Switzerland, the fact that there are many referenda of various kinds did not diminish parliamentary activity – to the contrary. This procedure even pushes toward an effective consensus in legislative work. It does not have to be perceived as being in competition.

Canada, Iceland and Ireland have recently experimented with sortition. What lessons can we draw from these experiments?

These applications have been ad-hoc. It would be interesting to turn them into a permanent institution, as was done with the Swiss referendum. Having a regular procedure would create a high probability for each one of use to be allotted once in our lifetime. This would create an interest for citizens in politics. Moreover, if these experiments have no follow-up, they would not really be of interest.

Is this a form of direct democracy such as that of ancient Greece?

In the ancient democracy of Athens, a popular assembly of citizens would vote directly on laws and would then implements them. Sortition was used to assign tasks, such as executive and judicial tasks, to the citizens. This practice is hardly transposable to modern society. Our political regimes, our societies of producers and consumers, are clearly incompatible with such a system. But it can serve as an inspiration. In our modern democracies, founded on the principle of representation rather than participation, the allotted would reflect the diversity of the electorate.

80 Responses

  1. That’s very interesting as Gil used to be very much in the Blind Break school of sortition — he co-edited the proceedings of the Cevipof sortition workshops with Peter Stone and Oliver Dowlen — yet the focus of this piece is descriptive representation, and there is no mention of impartiality, arationality etc. Gil sent me a copy of his new book, but I haven’t had time to read it yet.

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  2. Consider fetura, discussed online in an article on “evolutionary algorithms”. Alternation of random selection with merit screening, the way evolution takes place. In parliamentary assemblies committees often serve the merit screening phase.

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  3. Delanoi: sorting is not a substitute for elections, it is an addition to that. This is in line with the principle of parallelism that states that if you introduce a new social system, you must do this in addition to the existing one and not in place of the existing one. This is why the French and Russian revolution has led to the emergence of dictatorships (Napoleon and Stalin).

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  4. For an expert on sortition, this is rather superficial and cliched analysis. For example, the notion that “sortition must be circumscribed” begs the question of “circumscribed by whom?” The same elected officials with whom the public has lost all faith?

    Well, presumably yes, because Delanoi’s faith in the elected seems quite intact. He expects the allotted power to be welcomed by the elected:

    It would require that the elected representatives would be able to feel that it is a beneficial influence upon them and upon the legislation.

    Meaning, that the elected would find their power strengthened, rather than limited, by the application of sortition proposed by Delanoi.

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  5. It would require that the elected representatives would be able to feel that it is a beneficial influence upon them and upon the legislation. . .This procedure even pushes toward an effective consensus in legislative work. It does not have to be perceived as being in competition.

    Yoram, in your view politics seems to be all about power and interests. A more charitable view is that politicians would like to do the right thing (i.e. act for the general good) but are constrained by the need to attract votes. A Deliberative Poll on healthcare options undertaken by Fishkin in Rome enabled elected officials to argue that the ‘perceived legitimacy’ of the DP results gave them the ‘cover to do the right thing’ (Fishkin, 2009, p.151): the implication being that electoral success and legitimacy are anything other than synonymous.

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  6. Thanks for your critical views. I hope this book can bring clarity, precision and logic. I do not feel entitled to prefer any use of sortition. The test must be done through expriments under a rule of law. As for completely replacing elections (voting for representatives) by sortition NOW in the present situation, that would require a violent revolution and a popular dictatorship. It is also important to note that maximizing sortition to the the detriment of any power given to an assembly elected by vote implies the organization of many referendums. It is a bigger question.

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  7. Gil:> The test must be done through experiments under a rule of law.

    Absolutely! However I think political theorists have a duty to point out where experiments are doomed to fail on account of conceptual confusions over the nature of representative mandates etc. It strikes me that sortition-only solutions fail for theoretical reasons as well as requiring a revolution (violent or otherwise). The nice thing about Fishkin’s work is that he combines a willingness to experiment alongside a good theoretical understanding of the nature of representation (that guides and constrains the experimental design).

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  8. Hi Gil,

    Thanks for your reply.

    > I do not feel entitled to prefer any use of sortition.

    But you do make prescriptive comments in the interview.

    > The test must be done through expriments under a rule of law.

    Sure – every new structure must be tested by its function in reality. However, new structures are not experimented with at random. Some theory is needed to guide the experiments.

    Yes – it makes sense to make the transition to a democratic system gradually, so completely eliminating the oligarchical institution of elections can take some time. But that is a very different claim than the claim that sortition cannot or should not replace elections.

    > It is also important to note that maximizing sortition to the the detriment of any power given to an assembly elected by vote implies the organization of many referendums.

    Why do you say that? What is the connection between sortition and referendums?

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  9. Thanks for your interest and the presentation of the book and the interview. I don’t know if there is a misunderstanding, but if there is one, it stems from the fact that your comments and questions conflate the interview with the book. The book is about sortition in general, about theory and practice, with an emphasis on practical details. I hope to have brought something interesting, for example by comparing sortition to other procédures, or by distinguishing the operation (substraction of items, numbers, or names) and the procedure (several operations with a finality). The operation is a-rational, the procedure must have some rationality of its own. My final proposals about three chambers in France are rather new and include sortition in a proportion of 2/3.
    By contrast, in the interview I only addressed the present issues in France. My answers are contextualized. The Gilets Jaunes protesters and other actors call for sortition and referendum. Some in the government and the parliament seem to be interested. President Macron gave a green light. I have conversations with both sides. Is there something wrong in trying to bridge the gap (as you seem to suggest)? My aim is to clarify and help, mostly as a researcher and not so much as an expert.
    About your last question. Because I can’t imagine to do away with universal suffrage, I assumed in my answer that if someone wants to get rid of assemblies elected by vote, some important legislation has to be proposed and voted through referendums. Sortition may be the unique existing procedure in a Borges’s Babylonian fable, not in a political system, even in Ancient Athens.

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  10. Gil, perhaps we should publish an English-language edition . . .

    >Sortition may be the unique existing procedure in a Borges’s Babylonian fable, not in a political system, even in Ancient Athens.

    Nicely put — there’s a lot of utopian hot air emitted on this forum! We should remember that Barbara Goodwin views her own Aleatoria fantasy in the same fictional light as Thomas More’s Utopia (and certainly not a template for practical action).

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  11. PS

    >if someone wants to get rid of assemblies elected by vote, some important legislation has to be proposed and voted through referendums.

    And therein lies the paradox, in that referenda are supposed to be corrupted by rational ignorance and have rather gone out of fashion post-Brexit. And, just like Brexit, citizens would be voting for a general principle (replacing election with sortition), rather than a detailed proposal for governance of large modern states that has been demonstrated to work in practice.

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  12. Hi Gil,

    I look forward to reading your book.

    > President Macron gave a green light. I have conversations with both sides. Is there something wrong in trying to bridge the gap (as you seem to suggest)?

    It seems to me that your interpretation of the situation is problematic. I don’t see Macron as being sympathetic at all to the basic sentiment of the GJs, namely that the elected government is oligarchical, self-promoting and exploitative, and to their basic demands, namely that the policies pursued by government (his own and those of his predecessors) be changed substantively.

    Whatever “concessions” Macron is considering, they are meant to shore up the power of the existing elite, not to diminish it. And it seems that your proposals accept this goal as a given. With this as a starting point, the entire exercise is futile and no democratization of power can occur as a result.

    > Sortition may be the unique existing procedure in a Borges’s Babylonian fable, not in a political system, even in Ancient Athens.

    Obviously, we are not bound by historical precedents. If we aim to set up a modern democratic system we will be exploring uncharted territory. History can provide guidance and inspiration, but should not be treated as a straitjacket. Referendums, being a mass-political mechanism, suffer from much the same problems that elections do, and should not fulfill a significant day-to-day role in a democratic system.

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  13. Yoram:> Referendums, being a mass-political mechanism, suffer from much the same problems that elections do, and should not fulfill a significant day-to-day role in a democratic system.

    Gil’s point was that either a referendum or a violent revolution would be required to establish a sortition-only form of governance. If you dismiss the former (as subject to elite domination), would you prefer the latter?

    >If we aim to set up a modern democratic system we will be exploring uncharted territory. History can provide guidance.

    The main guidance from history is that attempts to re-boot the political system and start from a blank slate will involve the breaking of a lot of eggs and are destined to fail. There is no reason to believe that the kleristocratic revolution would be any different.

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  14. *** Delannoi wrote: “completely replacing elections (voting for representatives) by sortition NOW in the present situation, that would require a violent revolution and a popular dictatorship”.
    *** The ways of political mutations are very difficult to foresee.
    *** But I find very strange the idea of a « popular dictatorship » leading to a democracy-through-minipublics. What may be a “popular dictatorship”? Is Delannoi thinking of Jacobin or Maoist revolutionaries, or a new brand, putting absolute power in the hands of activists saying they represent the People? But they will never give any power to allotted bodies of ordinary, not-conscientized citizens. That seems to me an unbelievable prospect.

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  15. I think we can assume Delannoi was writing ironically when he wrote “popular dictatorship” … perhaps with fingers making “air quotes”

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  16. I have nothing against irony, but sometimes it is disturbing. When Ségolène Royal in 2006 was maybe the first modern known statesperson to propose “citizen juries”, there was an uproar from the French political elite and a part of the media, with the recurrent theme “citizen jury, it is the Jacobin Terrorism, or the Maoism” – whereas neither the Jacobins nor Mao had any idea of proposing allotted jury citizens. See these incredible attacks in Sintomer, Le pouvoir au people, p 7. Therefore I am a little upset by any discourse which links the minipopulus idea to “popular dictatorship”.

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  17. There is no majority today for replacing elections by sortition. Remember that the starting point was “sortition can supplement, not replace elections”. If you have any evidence that such majorities exist, please let us know. Ironically indeed we may imagine a new kind of authoritarian rule based on sortition when it comes to argue for an immediate replacement. Less ironically perhaps we may say that such a remplacement would be democratically achieved by a referendum and the question of a majority resurfaces.
    Nota bene: It is useless to mention Jacobins or Maoists in such a discussion. They never intended to give any power to any people, except themselves and their followers.

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  18. We need to beware that the sortition movement does not become as fissiparous as the left in the 1970s-80s. Remember that Gil, Andre, Yves, Terry, Yoram, Jon, Ad (and myself) are all sortition advocates, we just differ in emphasis over the role that it should play.

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  19. Although I don’t want to encourage fissiparousness, I think it’s of value to sketch out the various camps and acknowledge the differences without resorting to mud-slinging:

    1. Blind Break. This school uses sortition as an impartial mechanism to assign scarce resources, tasks and duties and has no particular interest in representation. Members of this school include Oliver Dowlen, Peter Stone, Jon Elster, Barbara Goodwin and Conall Boyle.

    2. Invisible Hand. This group is interested in the potential of sortition to institute descriptive representation via minipublics as an adjunct to our existing political arrangements. Members of this school include Gil Delanoi, Yves Sintomer, James Fishkin, David van Reybrouck, Jon Roland, myself and (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) Andre Sauzeau.

    3. The third (unnamed) group seeks to institute sortition to achieve radical political equality via the replacement of elected with allotted institutions. The mechanism is the same as 2 (randomly-selected minipublics) but the wholesale replacement of election with descriptive representation will effectively disenfranchise political and economic elites in favour of “the masses”. Although the mechanism is (statistical) majoritarianism, the result is the dictatorship of the proletariat in that the masses outnumber the elite by an order of magnitude. Members of this group include Yoram Gat, Terry Bouricius, Brett Hennig and (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) Andre Sauzeau.

    4. Epistemic Democrats focus on the value of cognitive diversity to implement collective intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. The principal advocate of this position is Helene Landemore.

    Needless to say membership of one group does not in principle preclude accepting that sortition does not perform other roles, it’s more a question of emphasis. Members of the second and third groups agree on the value of cognitive diversity but not everyone accepts that sortition is the best way establishing this in every case.

    Of course there are a lot more authors and activists involved, I’ve focused on people who post on this forum or whose work is frequently referenced.

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  20. Sorry, that should have been: ” the masses outnumber the elite by two orders of magnitude.”

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  21. Group 4 should include demarchists like John Burnheim and Hubertus, and group 3 should include Paul Nollen. Nick Gruen straddles all of the camps but mostly 2 and 4.

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  22. *** For Keith Sutherland, democracy-through-minipopulus means “dictatorship of the proletariat in that the masses outnumber the elite by two orders of magnitude”.
    *** That was exactly the discourse of Aristotle about ancient dêmokratia as tyranny of the low classes upon the elite.
    *** The uses of the words “tyranny” in ancient sense or “dictatorship” in modern sense to describe dêmokratia is confusing, as they blend two ideas.
    *** Right, in a dêmokratia – I propose the word ortho-democracy – there are no counter-powers with elite bases, therefore sovereignty does not include bargaining between the lowest and the highest in the society.
    *** But the working of Athenian democracy was very far from the working of tyranny, or of modern dictatorships. It is impossible not to see the difference between the kind of political life in Demosthenes’ Athens and the regimes that comes to the mind when we hear the word “dictatorship”.
    *** Let’s consider Demosthenes speech against the Law of Leptines. This law cancelled fiscal immunities of some rich Athenians, and was useful to supply money to the State. It was voted by the Legislators, whatever they were. Demosthenes in his speech asks the allotted jury to cancel it as “inexpedient” and contrary to basic moral values and “constitutional” principles. He is defending material interests of some rich citizens in the name of higher principles, in a process akin to “judicial review”. He hoped to win, and most historians as far as I know think he won. Who can describe this way of politics as a kind of “dictatorship”?

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  23. Andre,

    The ancient demokratia that you describe involved a dialectical relationship between elite orators and popular judges (in the assembly and the courts), whereas Yoram, Terry and Brett’s model precludes any role for elites, as advocacy is entirely endogenous to the allotted bodies. Yoram, for example, claims that the only body in classical Athens that was democratic was his (re-imagined) conception of the council. You clearly don’t go along with this view, that’s why I claim that you are only a member of the third (unnamed) school of thought on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I’m sorry to have to use terms like “dictatorship of the proletariat” but I can’t think of any other, and would point out that the term only gained its pejorative associations after Marx’s model of democracy was found to lead to dystopian outcomes when put into practice.

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  24. P.S. I should point out that model 3 has no historical precedents whatsoever (certainly not classical Athens) and is derived purely deductively. Most political scientists would argue that this is a very dangerous way to institute democratic reforms.

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  25. Gil,

    Yes, of course elections will not be replaced with sortition until this idea is widely popular. Even then, to the extent sortition will disempower the established elite, it will have to be fought for. Once sortition is popular, referendums may be involved in its establishment. But this is so because a general constitutional principle is in question. Referendums are not suited for general legislation. In a democratic system, neither elections nor referendums are part of the normal decision-making process.

    In the meantime, until the idea of replacing elections with sortition gains a hold in the public’s mind, more limited roles for sortition can be considered. But – and this is crucial – the roles must involve real power (e.g., constitute an independent anti-corruption body) rather than symbolic roles through which sortition would be discredited by becoming a window-dressing for the existing power structure.

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  26. *** Keith Sutherland considers different motives for sortition. He acknowledges that one can find several good roles for sortition and that differences between kleroterians may be only a question of emphasis. My own emphasis would be on the following idea.
    *** The advanced societies are mostly polyarchies with clear defects, which leads many citizens to a strong disaffection with the regime. But the one alternative appears the totalitarian model, and the 20th century history demonstrated its potential evils. Democracy-through- minipublics is a third model, giving power to ordinary citizens, most of them are not members of an elite, of a lobby, of an activist movement, and therefore may be expected, if deciding in juries after hearing the different sides, to take usually rather sound decisions (not always the best, but at least not from narrow interests or one-idea mental sets).
    *** I prefer to be legislated and governed by juries mainly for the same reasons I prefer to be judged by a jury.
    *** Keith says I am wavering. Not about the best model, democracy-through-minipublics. Only about the strategy. Maybe it can be a good idea to push towards a hybrid model, putting thus the minipopulus concept into the common consciousness and getting it out of the eccentric intellectual boxes of Ancient Greece and Science-Fiction. But likewise sortition may be used as in the “polyphonic democracy” idea of Rosanvallon, to protect oligarchizing elites. My provisional conclusion is we must look closely to any practical proposal of adding a sortition element to the present system. Specially real power (I agree with Yoram Gat), no mixing of allotted citizens with other deliberating people, mandatory participation (necessary, in today advanced societies, to mirror the civic body).

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  27. Andre:> ordinary citizens . . . deciding in juries after hearing the different sides [my emphasis]. . . we must look closely to any practical proposal of adding a sortition element to the present system

    The “different sides” I assume to be analogous to the advocacy role of Demosthenes and his peers in the classical era. I note that you are seeking to add sortition, rather than replace elections, so glad to hear you are a full-time member of Group 2 (Invisible Hand). And of course we all agree with Yoram’s strictures outlined in your last sentence (although he is opposed to even quasi-mandatory participation and secret voting).

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  28. Andre,

    Mandatory participation cannot create ‘a mirror of the civic body’ in any sense other than that of a mere formality. You can force people to show up, but you cannot force them to pay attention, take an active role in setting the agenda and make informed and considered decisions.

    Therefore, mandatory participation is not merely useless, it is potentially very harmful. Among other detrimental effects, it would allow convening a body that is nominally representative but is in fact arranged so that most of its members are de-motivated to try to play an effective political role within it. Such a body would not only produce undemocratic decisions, but would also allow enemies of democracy to claim that average people are unmotivated to take an active role in policy making.

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  29. Yoram,

    My personal experience of (mandatory) jury service would lend support to the studies indicating that ordinary people are pretty good at paying attention and making informed and considered decisions. I would agree, of course that you can’t force randomly-selected conscripts to take an active role in agenda setting — that’s why sortition can never replace election.

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  30. Yoram,

    Quasi-mandatory service on mini-publics is desirable for many reasons. It won’t be possible for some time (until fully established, accepted and institutionalized), but it should be a long-term goal. While it would be unreasonable for an all-issue legislative chamber with terms of up to a year (Yoram’s preference), for shorter-duration mini-publics (which I think should always have the final say on all legislation, however developed) quasi-mandatory service is a big plus. There may be SOME sortition bodies (Agenda-setting, policy review, oversight, etc.) that are non-mandatory, because they serve longer terms and require greater devotion to work… buyt the final say on legislation should go to short-duration mandatory bodies.

    Reasons for quasi-mandatory mini-public service (may be deferred for cause):

    Firstly, this helps achieve descriptive representativeness (not just superficial appearance, but cognitive-style, interests, etc.) without resorting to an overlay of stratified or quota sampling. Moving away from random sampling to stratified sampling opens the door to suspicion of manipulation, and also is not certain to achieve the actual close match with the target population that is desired and achieved by mandatory service and random selection.

    Secondly, many people with lower status have internalized that they are less capable than their “betters” and may be more likely to refrain from serving. Likewise, individuals with an inflated sense of their own importance are more likely to volunteer, yet the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests these people may in fact be no more, or even less competent than those with more intellectual humility. Many shy people who would be inclined to decline are EXACTLY the people we WANT to be involved in decision-making. Democracy means SELF-rule, rather than ruled over by the “best.” Deferring to our “betters” is a danger that non-mandatory service may promote.

    Thirdly, We should be much less concerned with the competence of each member individually, than with the competence of the mini-public as a whole. Sometimes the mere presence of certain individuals can cause other members to see things in different ways. For example, the inclusion of somebody with downs syndrome may prompt other members to remember to favor public policies that do not unnecessarily penalize those with disabilities. The group as a WHOLE becomes better at public decision-making through its diversity.

    Fourthly, individuals who are chosen, but who do not actively participate, are accurately representing such people in the general population. We don’t need to MAKE them participate while serving on the mini-public, just eliminate as many barriers to participation as possible. Some may come to participate after a while serving, and others may cease participating… and all of that is democratically representative of the population.

    Fifthly, participation should be seen as a civic duty (like jury service). Participation on juries can enhance those member’s civic life and engagement in other civic activities… the vaunted schools of democracy.

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  31. Terry,

    Your arguments 1, 2 and 3 are directed against positions that I am not taking and so they do not address my point.

    Yes – a representative sample in the decision-making chamber must be aimed at and to the extent it is not achieved, democracy is not achieved.

    As for the last two points:

    Point #4: forcing people to show up does not at all correspond to eliminating barriers to participation. To the contrary: forcing people to show up serves as a superficial substitute to making sure that barriers to participation are removed. If the barriers were removed no coercion would be needed because the allotted would be incentivized to take advantage of the opportunity offered to them to exercise political power. The fact that coercion is needed is an indication significant barriers remain, that the allotted do not see the service as a meaningful opportunity to participate.

    Point #5: Yes, participation should be seen as a duty. But it should be a duty that the large majority of citizens take on willingly rather than see as a useless, burdensome chore that one does because one is forced to. To the extent that this is not achieved, the system is not democratic. Among its many drawbacks, mandatory service turns an opportunity for an inspiring display of civic virtue into a meaningless discharge of forced service.

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  32. Yoram,

    Those of us who argue that accurate descriptive representation is paramount (and that every citizen who avoids her call-up reduces the overall representative fidelity of the jury) use the term “quasi-mandatory”. This involves a combination of financial rewards, cultural mores and (as a last resort) compulsion. Was it obligatory for Athenian farmers to join a hoplite phalanx? Probably not, but citizens who chose not to participate would have been ostracised. Re-creating a culture of republican virtù in a liberal individualist society is a tough call, hence the need for civic duties to be quasi-mandatory. Bear in mind also that Terry and myself are referring to service on a political jury, rather than a full-mandate legislative assembly (which both of us reject as undemocratic), so your defence of voluntarism applies to a assembly model that has very few defenders.

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  33. *** I agree totally with the reasons well developed by Terry Bouricius.
    *** I would add one reason: mandatory presence prevents social pressure against participation. I remember when I was young a referendum where the Communist Party advocated abstention: it was not easy to go and vote in some “red suburbs” of Paris. Freedom of voting “blank” in a referendum is an individual freedom (if you consider the process biased for instance), freedom of abstention may be the contrary of individual freedom.
    *** Social pressure may exist of different kinds: of a high level kind as “to vote in a legislating jury is impious, only God is sovereign legislator” , or of a low level kind “to participate is wasting time in a stupid and ridiculous way”.

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  34. *** Yoram Gat says that mandatory participation “would allow convening a body that is nominally representative but is in fact arranged so that most of its members are de-motivated to try to play an effective political role within it.”
    *** Well if we imagine in the USA a minipopulus convened to decide on the rules about weapons and if “most of its member are de-motivated” to decide, it would be better to give up the idea of minipopulus, at least for this society and this time. But what is to be feared is more reluctance to enter the system than lack of motivation when the power is in one’s hands.
    *** The wording of Yoram “most of its members” is disturbing. “Most”? Does Yoram really favor a regime where the minipopulus is representative of a minority of virtuous citizens?

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  35. *** The question of mandatory service is not only a question for supporters of democracy-through-minipopulus. It is a today question in countries where jurors are summoned to criminal trials, as France. Here we may have cases of people refusing the juror role, giving religious/philosophical reasons, and they are fined. One wrote a book I have not yet read to explain his views.
    *** Personally, I think that going to the court must be mandatory for the allotted citizen; but he should be allowed not to participate to the trial, rather to go to an adjacent coffee room to read reviews or watch TV, during all the time of the trial.
    *** That would not be against the idea of representative sample: these refusing people would represent the part of the dêmos who really refuses to participate to sovereignty, from religious/philosophical reasons or from strong egocentrism.

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  36. Yoram wrote:
    >” If the barriers were removed no coercion would be needed because the allotted would be incentivized to take advantage of the opportunity offered to them to exercise political power.”

    I dispute this. eliminating barriers and providing incentives are important, but not sufficient. A large number of people, especially oppressed and lower status people might refrain, as I commented in my point number 2: “Secondly, many people with lower status have internalized that they are less capable than their “betters” and may be more likely to refrain from serving.”

    Many or most people are not eager to divert personal time to work to promote a public good that may help them only a little or not at all. In a well-functioning sortition democracy, i expect “politics” would become incredibly boring, and people would have no more desire to serve on a policy jury than on a criminal jury today.

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  37. Andre,

    > *** The wording of Yoram “most of its members” is disturbing. “Most”? Does Yoram really favor a regime where the minipopulus is representative of a minority of virtuous citizens?

    Certainly not. I am not sure what the misunderstanding is.

    My point is that having a body that is nominally representative but in which in fact most members are passive and political power is in the hands of a small minority is no better (and possibly worse) than a body which is explicitly oligarchical.

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  38. Terry,

    > A large number of people, especially oppressed and lower status people might refrain, as I commented in my point number 2: “Secondly, many people with lower status have internalized that they are less capable than their “betters” and may be more likely to refrain from serving.”

    Again, showing up means nothing. If people are not empowered to participate the fact that they show up will be worse than them not showing up (since in the latter case it is clear that the system is failing).

    The system, and society around it, must be arranged to make sure that there is no “large number of people” who believe they are incapable of serving. Again, if this is not the case then mandatory attendance is not a fix but a way to mask the problem, making it less clear that the problem exists, making it harder to fix.

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  39. a,

    The problem is not with people who explicitly reject the idea of allotted participation. These should be a small minority and in any case they freely choose to be governed by others.

    The problem is with people who for practical reasons are unable/unwilling to participate. These are people who would like to participate but are prevented from doing so due to inappropriate design of the system. Forcing these people to show is a way to mask this failure (which could very well be the result of deliberate sabotage) and then blame the poor outcomes on the people.

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  40. Yoram,

    >most members [of the quasi-mandatory allotted assembly] are passive and political power is in the hands of a small minority [of them]

    Indeed, imbalances in speech acts are inevitable, that’s why Terry and I insist that the role of the disposing jury should be limited to deliberating in silence and then determining the outcome via a secret ballot, in which every vote has exactly the same value.

    >The system, and society around it, must be arranged . . .

    Any political project that depends on a prior re-arrangement of society is utopian.

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  41. Terry,

    Take note of how Sutherland sees your position as a corollary of his elitist-authoritarian worldview:

    > Indeed, imbalances in speech acts are inevitable

    It is exactly such a world view that would be bolstered by mandatory service.

    Sutherland,

    > Any political project that depends on a prior re-arrangement of society

    Any political reform project is a re-arrangement of society. The ‘a-priori’ is of course your own mendacious addition. Don’t you ever get tired of your own lies?

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  42. Yoram,

    I acknowledge that my model is based on the assumption that open competition between political parties is the only practicable way or achieving representative isegoria. This would also be the view of the overwhelming majority of political scientists (authoritarian-elitist and otherwise), and puts me at odds with sortition fundamentalists like Terry and yourself. It is also the focus of the project that I’m currently working on with Alex Kovner. As for your stated need to rearrange society in order to implement your model, the distinction between a-priori and coterminous is purely academic, as your point is that it won’t work with our existing social arrangements. This accords with your recently expressed view (highlighted by Andre) that statistical representation can be achieved via a minority of volunteer citizens. “Minority” is of course in need of quantification but the current data averages 4% take-up, so there is some way to go to achieve accurate representation on a voluntary basis.

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  43. Keith,
    1. There is value in figuring out a “utopian” optimal democratic design (which may require changes in education, economics, culture, etc.) to create a “North Star” to know in which direction to travel, even if that design is generations away (17th Century advocates of abolition and women’s rights weren’t wasting their time… they were setting a path).

    2. The 4% take-up for previous unfamiliar, one-off, minimal power mini-publics is meaningless for a future design. A mini-public with significant power might have 80% take up… we don’t know. A full charge legislature might have 95% take up or 10% (because of fear of the responsibility)… we can’t know. My guess is that without quasi-mandatory service, take-up in a single-issue mini-public might be small because people don’t care enough PERSONALLY about finding the best balance between expensive water rates and limiting pollution (or whatever the task is), and would rather leave it to some other random people. Because I reject the design of a longish term, all-issue, decisive and random legislature as probably inadequately representative and dangerously prone to corruption, I support quasi-mandatory service for the final decisive single-issue mini-public. volunteer service can play a role for various preparatory or oversight mini-publics, just not the final decision-making mini-public.

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  44. Terry,

    I would hope that our proposals for sortition were designed to work in the foreseeable future, rather than 300 years down the line. This means working within the constraints of existing social arrangements. The other sense in which I’ve referred to sortition proposals as utopian is when they seek to replace existing political practices in their totality, (although I suppose a more fitting word would be revolutionary). They are also utopian in that they rely on a single principle (as in Barbara Goodwin’s dystopian fantasy of Aleatoria) and political institutions are proposed on the basis of deductive logic (derived from a misunderstanding of the concept of representation) and without historical precedent. Best to leave aleatory fantasies to Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur C. Clarke and other writers of fiction.

    >My guess is that without quasi-mandatory service, take-up in a single-issue mini-public might be small.

    I agree.

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  45. Terry,

    > take-up in a single-issue mini-public might be small because people don’t care enough PERSONALLY about finding the best balance between expensive water rates and limiting pollution (or whatever the task is), and would rather leave it to some other random people.

    If people cannot be incentivized to participate in single-issue short term bodies, this would certainly be a serious problem and would be a strong argument against having those bodies.

    In fact, that seems to be a good necessary (but not sufficient) criterion for the design parameters of an allotted body. Any design that does not generate a high level of voluntary acceptance rate (where acceptance means a commitment to active participation) must be rejected.

    Mandatory service does not solve the problem of low acceptance rates. It can only serve as a smoke-screen that allows those who are happy to have non-democratic government to deny that a problem exists.

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  46. Yoram:> Any design that does not generate a high level of voluntary acceptance rate (where acceptance means a commitment to active participation) must be rejected.

    That’s a strange claim, as most people have little interest in political matters. Terry is the only one of us who has actual experience as a legislator, and he tells us that most political decision-making is mundane and boring. Most of us who are members of sports clubs and other voluntary associations will affirm that very few of their fellow members are prepared to stand for committee membership, even though the club’s activity is (by definition) of interest to them.

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  47. Keith, Yoram and Andre,

    It isn’t exactly that public policy making is mundane, but that it is initially interesting to only a subset of people. That subset also will likely be less suited to public policy making because they are often overly self-confident know-it-alls (like most of us on this Blog;-) It is true, that once immersed into a policy matter, many more people come to TAKE an interest in it, and even find it rewarding… BUT these people would likely have declined to reply to a voluntary random call. I still believe that in a well-functioning genuinely representative democracy, that politics would become more boring. It is FAILURES of democracy that get people riled up and interested. If sortition democracy works well, most people would decline to serve unless the superimposed incentives were substantial, such that, for example, they were going to be made rich by serving (and then also we would attract a problematic and unrepresentative subset of people).

    The problem with Yoram’s view is that a full-charge, decisive allotted legislature based on voluntary service of randomly selected people will be unrepresentative of the population. The weightiness of their task may be an inducement for some minority of citizens with certain personalities and self-confidence, but a barrier to many other citizens who would be afraid to take on such an important task.

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  48. Terry,

    Speaking as another self-confident know-it-all I agree.

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  49. Terry,

    The notion that most people are so attached to their routine that they would decline political power, civic honor and a good salary in order to keep it seems unrealistic to me (and showing some traces of elitist distrust of the average person). People are changing workplaces all the time, often moving in the process. Why would you just assume that they will not be willing to serve, and by making this unfounded assumption corner yourself into promoting a dysfunctional, undemocratic system?

    In any case, even if voluntary participation does not materialize despite determined attempts to make it work, mandatory attendance would not be an acceptable alternative. Something else would need to be figured out in this hypothetical problematic case.

    (As for the worry that in some utopian future politics would become uncontentious and boring and everybody would be happy with things as they are – let’s solve that problem if and when it arises.)

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  50. Yoram:> In any case, even if voluntary participation does not materialize despite determined attempts to make it work, mandatory attendance would not be an acceptable alternative.

    Why so? Given that the vast majority of citizens would not be allotted, those who are chosen have a civic duty to represent their peers (a variant on the national service and jury service principle). You have frequently championed the work of Callenbach and Philips and these authors are keen to include lazy and inattentive members of citizen juries in the interests of accurate representation of the target population. And if you are so confident that most people would choose to serve, why then are you so opposed to quasi-mandatory participation — what difference is there in principle between mandation and bribing members with large salaries and high status? I do think you should also address Terry and my concerns about the atypical psychological profile of volunteers for this sort of task.

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  51. My late reply to Yoram’s question:
    My 3-chamber-system for France is not incompatible with other schemes but it is different and slightly more challenging. See pages 134-138. To sum up: 1/A Popular Assembly of about 1680 selected by lot on the basis of Universal Suffrage. 2/A National assembly (unchanged) of 500 elected by vote. 3/ A Senate of 200 (age above 40) elected by lot on the basis of a qualification given by many non-political institutions (corporations, unions, medical professions, university etc). This may look a bit medieval but it brings experts unbiased by partisanship.
    This system combines three different approaches and has a sortive proportion of 2/3 without mitigation. Many details cannot be given here and many others remain to be defined. For example: The Popular Assembly might be renewed every year but in which proportion? 1/5 or 1/3 or 1/2? What should the pool for the election of the Senate by lot: 1 million, less or more? Has every institution the right to choose the procedure for selecting them (vote, sortition, test etc) or should it be also done by sortition?
    Whenever I present that scheme, it also works as a test: people who like it see the Popular Assembly as “popular” and the Senate as “qualified” whereas the different critics tend to see the Assembly as “populist” and the Senate as “elitist”.

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  52. *** A political mutation is not easy to foresee. Few thinkers in 1900 could imagine that twenty years later Russia will become the first totalitarian State (previous totalitarian endeavours were short-lived partial andonly partial). Few in 1970 would foresee the collapse of this regime.
    *** A mutation is easier when the system-to-come exists somewhere. Gorbatchev’s Russians did know about Western polyarchies.
    *** But the first Greek democracies arose without previous references. Various kind of republics may have existed in various civilizations, but there was nothing as a dêmokratia, an “ortho-democracy” – which is the reason there is a lot of talk here about Greece, which annoys some kleroterians.
    *** Keith Sutherland is wrong when he considers any endeavor based on an intellectual model as an utopia -deemed to fail or to become totally different from the aim.
    *** I think the label “utopian” should be restricted to models which have no base in the today world, and therefore would imply going out of this world (by selecting people to go to an external country, as dreamed Plato, or by a deep moral conversion of mankind).
    *** Among the bases of the Athenian democracy, founded by Cleisthenes, isêgoria, isonomia and the “artificial” melting of the dêmos were new and potent elements, sure; but there were some pre-existent social and intellectual elements: the idea of the City; the presence of lot in the common Greek culture, as seen in Homer epics; the actual or potential assembly of the citizen-warriors; the strong agonal spirit in the nobiliary elite.
    *** Among the bases of a modern ortho-democracy, some exist now.
    Dahl proposal of minipopulus supposed the political equality of citizens, which is a dogma since 1945; he added the modern technology of tele communication and the modern scientific concept of “representative sample”, more and more popular nowadays. Habermas was wrong to say the minipopulus model is “rather utopian”.
    *** Personally I support the idea – which was Dahl’s – to add the minipopulus model to existing polyarchic systems, even if the final aim is pure ortho-democracy, using mainly the minipopulus scheme. But I don’t agree that this pure model is utopian.
    *** We cannot guess the chances of a modern dêmokratia; from evolution from polyarchy through hybrid systems; from unforeseeable revolutionary events; from the collapse of an authoritarian system.
    *** But anyway I agree with Terry Bouricius that the model of a modern ortho-democracy is a “North Star” “to know in which direction to travel”.

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  53. Andre:> Keith Sutherland is wrong when he considers any endeavor based on an intellectual model as an utopia.

    My own expertise (if I have any) is in political theory and my recent PhD thesis on sortition is 90% theory, 5% practice and 5% history of political thought, so I’m certainly not opposed to an intellectual model. What I do object to is designing political institutions deductively, without respect for historical experience or existing structures. My specific target is Yoram’s attempt to demonstrate — on the strength of a 3 step logical syllogism — that sortition is not just necessary but also sufficient to establish democratic representation, whereas preference election is an intrinsically oligarchic mechanism.

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  54. Hi Gil,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Apart from the obvious problem that two chambers in your proposal are elite controlled (the elected chamber and the qualification-based chamber), the huge size of the allotted chamber is a recipe for its disempowerment. Clearly such a huge chamber cannot have an equalitarian power structure based on all-to-all communication. This would inevitably lead either to complete inaction or to the emergence a powerful elite within that chamber. What is the function that you think a chamber like that could carry out?

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  55. PS

    Andre:> Among the bases of the Athenian democracy, founded by Cleisthenes, isêgoria, isonomia and the “artificial” melting of the dêmos were new and potent elements, sure.

    Not so regarding the first two — isonomia was originally an aristocratic conception, referring to the ‘equality of noblemen’ (Ehrenberg, 1946, p. 89), and isegoria was previously restricted to the nobility and magistrates, although Bonner (1933, p. 67) claims that the speech by the common soldier Thersites to the assembly in Iliad, book II demonstrates it was more universal. But most scholars agree that Cleisthenes’ innovation was to extend isonomia and isegoria to all citizens (along with the artificial melting of the demos).

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  56. Yoram:> a huge chamber cannot have an equalitarian power structure based on all-to-all communication.

    Absolutely, deliberative theorists posit a maximum number of 12-24 (Coote & Lenaghan, 1997), hence the size of typical cabinets. It would be impossible for such a tiny number of randomly-selected citizens to “describe” its target population with any degree of accuracy, so the obvious conclusion is that randomly-selected groups should have a purely aggregate judgment mandate that precludes all-to-all communication. Thank you for making that point so clearly.

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  57. The perfect size for deliberation and equal access to debate is 60 members. Dahl is right about that. To reach a tolerable representativeness (even if it is a mandatory or almost mandatory service) you need at the very least about 1500 members in a country as France. In passing: 1500 was the size of the largest tribunal in Athens.
    What must be implemented to reach different legitimate goals (representativeness, deliberation decision-making) is a combination of session including all members and smaller assemblies within the larger. A good number would be 1680, a number caracterized by the existence of many factors: 240 x 7 makes smaller assemblies that work on different subjects or differently on the same subjetc. 80 x 21 makes committees etc.
    The cleavage elite vs non-elite is too simplisitic for any procedural design. Every human activity produces its own elite: football, cooking, running, shoping and fishing as well. So “my Senate” would be elistist only if the commun elites according to position, education and wealth are qualified. It is not what I am aiming at. What I keep from the old idea of a Senate is the idea of qualifying those who have already done something in their own sphere and who are commited to some collective action too. I do not care in such a Senate about an anti-elitism principle turned into a new elitism of the “underprivelged”. Knowledge gives you no privelege. Ignorance must be treated the same way. A 3-chamber-system is based on a principle comparable to the equilbrium of branches: separation, interaction, cooperation, through checks, balances, and controls.
    You may disagree as much as you like but this is no proof that a such a system does not make sense, would not work, or does not make for a interesting use of sortition.

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  58. Gil,

    > The perfect size for deliberation and equal access to debate is 60 members.

    It is of course true that the smaller the body the easier it is for it to act in a coordinated, equalitarian manner. I am not sure where the number 60 comes from, but it is clear that any size beyond a few hundred is too large.

    > To reach a tolerable representativeness (even if it is a mandatory or almost mandatory service) you need at the very least about 1500 members in a country as France.

    What is your basis for this claim? (As a statistician it makes no sense to me.)

    > You may disagree as much as you like but this is no proof that a such a system does not make sense, would not work

    What do you mean by “make sense”, or “work”? I believe people are demanding a democratic system. It is clear that your proposed system is not democratic, since it grants privileged political power to certain minorities.

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  59. Yoram:> As a statistician it makes no sense to me

    It depends on what population parameters you are seeking to represent and to what degree of confidence. Apart from Conall Boyle, the only other statistician that I know who is working in this field (John Garry) claims that 1,000 is the absolute minimum, assuming no communication between jurors and no splitting up for small-group deliberation (which would require a much larger number for adequate representativity).

    >I believe people are demanding a democratic system.

    Who are these “people”? The only ones I know of who define democracy in terms of pure sortition without any role for elites are Terry, Brett and yourself. There are no historical examples of governance (democratic or otherwise) without elites and I would argue that representative isegoria is impossible without elections, so elites are not just inevitable, they are also necessary and desirable.

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  60. Gil:> I do not care in such a Senate about an anti-elitism principle turned into a new elitism of the “underprivileged”. Knowledge gives you no privilege. Ignorance must be treated the same way.

    Nicely put! My other concern would be the enormous gulf between the privilege of the tiny number of allotted persons compared to the vast majority of citizens. The only bridging principle is representativity, and that means large numbers and a circumscribed mandate.

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  61. Answers to some Keith Sutherland historical points

    *** About isonomia previously restricted to equality of noblemen; it is Ehrenberg’s theory, I doubt. No time for discussion here, but anyway its extension to the whole dêmos would be an important Cleisthenes innovation.
    *** About isêgoria: there was some level of free speech in Homeric assemblies, but limited when people were of low rank. You mention Thersites, but when Thersites spoke too high against the kings Iliad II, 225 sq., which followed? “So spoke Odysseus, and with his staff smote his back and shoulders; and Thersites cowered down, and a big tear fell from him, and a bloody weal rose up on his back beneath the staff of gold. Then he sat him down, and fear came upon him, and stung by pain with helpless looks he wiped away the tear. But the Achaeans, sore vexed at heart though they were, broke into a merry laugh at him” (tr. Murray). Somewhat far from democratic isêgoria!
    *** What was new with Cleisthenes was the radical formal equality of citizens, something odd in an ancient world where inequality was the rule. Equality was possible only in a “community of peers”, and Cleisthenes endeavor was to transform the society of citizens into such a community.
    *** Once equality established the use of lot was “natural” in Greek culture, already in Homeric times – see Odyssey IX, 331-335 and X, 203-208 for warriors, XIV, 209-210 for heirs, Iliad XV, 187-189 for gods.
    *** We have a kind of symmetry: for ancient Greeks civic equality was “artificial”, lot between equals was “natural”; in contemporary advanced societies a priori political equality looks “natural” to many, but using lot looks somewhat “artificial”.

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  62. Andre,

    > *** We have a kind of symmetry: for ancient Greeks civic equality was “artificial”, lot between equals was “natural”; in contemporary advanced societies a priori political equality looks “natural” to many, but using lot looks somewhat “artificial”.

    Interesting point. This symmetry is not accidental. The lot is an effective tool for equalization, so when a link between the ideology of equality and sortition exists, the only way for the elite to avoid equality is to explicitly reject it. When, as in modern times, the link between equality and sortition is severed it is very convenient for the elite to pledge allegiance to equality while in fact keeping their political power.

    While this manipulation is possible, it leads to contradictions between ideology and reality that become more acute with time. These contradictions can only be finally resolved in two ways: either by a shift to a more explicitly elitist ideology or by adopting sortition and moving toward a more egalitarian reality.

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  63. About the size of minipopulus.
    *** In Dahl’s model, a “minipopulus” was “consisting of perhaps a thousand citizens randomly selected out of the entire demos” and “meeting” by telecommunications.
    *** Let’s consider such a 1000 members minipopulus in the simplest case of choice; YES or NO, with frequency P of YES in the whole demos is far from 0 and 1.
    The frequency of YES in the minipopulus is random and follows a Gaussian law of mean P and variance P(1-P)/1000.
    If P is very near of 0.5, the frequency of YES in the minipopulus will follow a Gaussian law of mean 0.5 and variance 0.25/1000, or standard deviation 0.5/31.6= 0.016.
    *** If we want to be “almost sure” that the vote of the minipopulus indicates the vote of the entire dêmos, and if we take “more than 999 for 1000” as “almost sure”, the Gaussian law tables indicate that the minimum frequency in the minipopulus is given by the formula
    B= 0,5 + 3.09 standard deviations
    B = 0.5 + 3.09×0.016= 0.55.
    *** That means that to be “almost sure” that the minipopulus vote is representative, we must have for the minipopulus a supermajority of 55%. If it is not the case, we must convene a bigger minipopulus.
    *** Please tell me if I am mathematically mistaken.
    *** I know very well that there will be randomness coming not from the randomness of sampling but from the randomness of speech acts in deliberations, but we cannot compute them. We must accept them without being able to evaluate them (except experimentally by comparing many parallel minipopulus choices).
    *** I think Dahl’s idea of a size of 1000 for an ordinary minipopulus is statistically reasonable. A higher size may be necessary in some cases. A lower size is possible when we establish a specific rule; for instance for a judiciary minipopulus if we give some “benefice of the doubt” to the accused.

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  64. Andre,

    Your math is correct, but the following:

    > That means that to be “almost sure” that the minipopulus vote is representative, we must have for the minipopulus a supermajority of 55%

    is a non-sequitur. Even on your own assumptions, we could just as well say that we should have a body of n people and a supermajority of 1/2 + 3.09 / 2 / sqrt(n), for any number n. That is, your argument does not make 1000 any more reasonable than any other number.

    Of course, the notion that having a supermajority makes sure the body’s vote is representative is of course only half true. It makes sure that a ‘yes’ decision occurs only when a majority of ‘yes’ exists in the population, but it also makes it very likely that some majorities for ‘yes’ in the population would not result in a ‘yes’ decision.

    Finally, as your comments regarding ‘non-sampling randomness’ indicate, the entire line of argumentation above is too narrow-focused to be meaningful. It relies on the ‘mirroring’ conception of sortition which ignores everything that takes place except for the final up-or-down vote. A more useful way to consider how an allotted body represents the people is through the extension-of-self-representation model. This model emphasizes that a body cannot represent a population if it cannot represent itself. Thus any size that is too big to allow a body to represent its own members is too big to allow it to represent the population from which it is drawn. Therefore, any body that does not allow equalitarian all-to-all interaction is useless as a representative body.

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  65. Andre:> I know very well that there will be randomness coming not from the randomness of sampling but from the randomness of speech acts in deliberations, but we cannot compute them. We must accept them without being able to evaluate them (except experimentally by comparing many parallel minipopulus choices).

    I don’t see why we should have to accept anything that cannot be demonstrated to be democratically legitimate. If your reference is to a quasi-mandatory randomly-selected assembly of 1,000, the likelihood is that the vast majority of members will not speak at all, the proceedings will be dominated by a tiny minority of opinionated persons, and the rhetorical style will be forensic rather than deliberative (Cicero advocated that for Senate debates and that was for a smaller number). The selection of such persons will be random in the pejorative sense and it would take a significant number of parallel minipopuli to see if there was any consistent pattern. Far more reliable (and cost-effective) to use an alternative method to secure representative speech acts.

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  66. Yoram:> Therefore, any body that does not allow equalitarian all-to-all interaction is useless as a representative body.

    A body of 12-24 persons is equally unrepresentative of the target population, and many deliberative theorists claim that even such tiny groups require careful moderation. Anything larger will not enable equal all-to-all interaction, so we cannot hope that sortition will deliver anything more than mirroring, although the mirroring will be of informed, rather than raw preferences. Fishkin has been researching this for over two decades, so we don’t need to rely on pre-theoretical intuitions, thought experiments or logical syllogisms. Andre is right to argue that this can only be verified by experiments, not armchair philosophy.

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  67. Resolving these dilemmas is a major focus of my 2013 paper on multi-body sortition. A single body, whether elected or allotted cannot be both representative, allow active deliberation and avoid manipulation or corruption. However a smaller allotted body (much smaller than 200) can develop a reasonable agenda (it need not be the perfect agenda), and separate smallish bodies can review and deliberate over ideas gathered from anybody in the community who wishes to make a proposal, which is responsive th that agenda. These smallish mini-publics are not guaranteed to be perfectly representative, but will certainly be MORE representative than any current elected legislature anywhere in the world. But the final yes/no vote on final proposals coming from a smallish deliberative mini-public, needs to be taken by a large, quasi-mandatory mini-public after hearing pro and con arguments and asking clarifying questions only. Good democracy needs deliberation and accurate representation, but these two vital attributes cannot be achieved by the same body.

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  68. Terry,

    > Good democracy needs deliberation and accurate representation, but these two vital attributes cannot be achieved by the same body.

    Deliberation and representation cannot be separated. Representation is not something that can be added on to non-representative agenda setting.

    As for ‘accurate’ – this notion relies on the mistaken ‘mirroring’ line of thought. It assumes that on any issue there is a fixed target (the true opinion) that needs to be attained by the decision-making body. This is not the case at all. What needs to take place is policy-making that represents the values and interests of the population. This is a very amorphous and broad target that cannot be measured with any accuracy.

    This fact, by the way, also explains how the contradictions of electoralism could be maintained for such a long time. The policy outcomes of any regime are not measured against a specific, well defined target but against very tolerant and malleable standards. Only a system that clearly does not deliver on its own promises (such as electoralism has become) pushes the regime toward a crisis.

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  69. Terry,

    I agree with most of what you say, but I wish you would stop repeating this old canard:

    These smallish mini-publics . . . will certainly be MORE representative than any current elected legislature anywhere in the world.

    This, as we know from Pitkin’s work, is conflating two distinct principles — descriptive (statistical) representation and the active representation of interests. There is no more need for active representatives (“attorneys” in Hobbesian parlance) to resemble their principals than for your lawyer to possess any of your personal or social characteristics. I’m sure when you were an elected legislator you did you very best to represent the interests of your constituents, even though you may not have resembled them significantly (impossible for one person). Of course I accept that the principle is compromised by epistemic factors (as outlined by Mill and your earlier observation that none of your fellow legislators were renters) along with potential conflicts of interest, but the principle remains true. As for the claim that allotted volunteers better describe their principals than elected members that depends on which population parameters you are seeking to mirror. They may “look like America” but that doesn’t tell you anything about their beliefs, preferences and psychological characteristics. The only thing that we can be sure of is that nobody chose them and nobody can fire them (unlike with a legal attorney or other professional representative)

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  70. Yoram:> Representation is not something that can be added on to non-representative agenda setting.

    True (glad you’ve fixed your earlier typo), but there are more reliable ways of representative agenda setting than deliberative minipublics.

    >What needs to take place is policy-making that represents the values and interests of the population. This is a very amorphous and broad target that cannot be measured with any accuracy.

    This mirrors the claim of dictatorships — popular and otherwise — over the last 100 years or so.

    >The policy outcomes of any regime are not measured against a specific, well defined target

    The target in democracies is the judgment of electors, operationalised by the particular voting rules in place.

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  71. *** Yoram Gat considers I am “too narrow-focused” “on the “mirroring” “ conception of sortition which ignores everything that takes place except for the final up-or-down vote.”
    *** I agree that there are important points in ortho-democracy through minipopulus other than the mirror idea. But it is one of the basic points for democratic legitimacy, and it is a very powerful idea.
    *** When a kind of “citizen jury” is established, the more dangerous criticism it will get, from politicians enemies of the principle (and from those afraid of getting decisions they don’t like), will be: “the jury is not mirror of the People”. All other criticisms will have much lower weight.
    *** I may be wrong, but I am convinced it will be very difficult to get wide approval for the system if it is not proof against this criticism.

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  72. *** Keith says “As for the claim that allotted volunteers better describe their principals than elected members that depends on which population parameters you are seeking to mirror. They may “look like America” but that doesn’t tell you anything about their beliefs, preferences and psychological characteristics.”
    *** Right for “allotted VOLUNTEERS”. It is why participation must be mandatory.

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  73. *** Keith says about alloted citizens “nobody chose them and nobody can fire them (unlike with a legal attorney or other professional representative)”. Right. It is why if accused of some wrongdoing I want to be judged by jurors (NB not only about the facts), it is precisely because “nobody chose them and nobody can fire them”, because they are independent from narrow interests and from one-idea activists.
    *** I choose my legal attorney. Right – if I am rich enough to pay for a good one. But I select him for a precise “technical” field (I can select different ones for financial matters, divorce matters, criminal matters) whereas the “political representatives” are “experts in everything”, it seems. And my attorneys or doctors work under my personal guidance, for instance my criminal attorney will not be able to “plead guilty” against my will, my doctor will not have me undergoing surgery without my consent, whereas my “political representatives” will be able to start wars/remain neutral or close/open the State to a migrants wave without asking me – and it is late afterwards! To compare the relationship of polyarchies “political representatives” with the People and my relationship with a doctor or a legal attorney is basically false.

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  74. Andre:> I agree that there are important points in ortho-democracy through minipopulus other than the mirror idea. But it is one of the basic points for democratic legitimacy.

    It’s interesting to note that Helene Landemore states in her book Democratic Reason that she is “simply not concerned” about issues like legitimacy and democratic authority. She also makes optimistic assumptions that participants will favour the general good rather than their own interests. This attitude is fairly typical among deliberative “democrats” and now we hear that advocates of full-mandate sortition are content with “amorphous and broad targets that cannot be measured with any accuracy”. Democracy, however, is generally viewed in terms of counting heads, strong right arms, hanging chads etc, but this is anathema to deliberative theorists (and sortition fundamentalists).

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  75. Andre,

    We are all in agreement that judgment — in both judicial and political cases — should be in the hands of juries, for all the reasons you mention. The issue under discussion is proposing/opposing new legislation, and it is not at all obvious how proposals should best mirror citizens’ preferences. Under current arrangements, political parties put their proposals in election manifestos and are then held to account in subsequent elections. It would appear that Tony Blair’s decision to declare war on Iraq and Angela Merkel’s decision to encourage high levels of immigration has had marked electoral consequences, but I agree that this is a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. In our forthcoming book Alex Kovner and myself propose a new function for political parties that would better fit this advocacy role but this is currently a work in progress. However it is very clear that Terry is (deliberately?) conflating two entirely different forms of representation, and that policy proposals left in the hands of a random group of volunteers (who nobody voted for and cannot be fired) is entirely undemocratic.

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  76. Andre,

    > “the jury is not mirror of the People”. All other criticisms will have much lower weight.
    > *** I may be wrong, but I am convinced it will be very difficult to get wide approval for the system if it is not proof against this criticism.

    I think you are very wrong. It just makes no sense: supposedly oligarchists would tell the public that they should prefer and elected body, whose makeup is horribly tilted toward the elite, because a 200-sized allotted body has 114 women in it rather than 100?!

    No. The real risk is that the body would be perceived as dysfunctional (justly or unjustly). In this case, saying “but look, the body accurately mirrors the population” would be of absolutely no use.

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  77. Yoram, do you agree that “representing the values and interests of the population” could, in principle, be achieved by non-democratic institutions — for example a benign dictator or a complex AI system? Although this may be empirically unlikely, it’s hard to see how your alternative (a structured conversation between a small number of randomly-selected volunteers) could achieve this goal, given that you are very relaxed that different samples of the same population could generate very different policy outcomes but that they would all (by definition?) represent the values and interests of the population. I agree with Andre that this is unlikely to be perceived as democratically legitimate and am puzzled why you think your “extension of self-representation” model would be sufficiently persuasive. I think you would also be wise to consider that you are in a minority of one on this forum, so it’s hard to see how anyone who is not already convinced of the value of sortition would find your argument convincing.

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  78. For agenda setting and reviewing/refining proposals submitted from the general public, the extended duration and great effort required makes mandatory service unworkable (mandatory service is only essential for the final short-duration yes/no decisions). Keith argues that partisan elections are good for agenda setting and policy development. I will briefly explain why a randomly selected mini-public… even if smallish, and without mandatory service are far more representative (in all meaningful ways – not mere descriptive representation) than partisan elected chambers.

    The competitive electoral dynamics drive politicians to elevate certain sorts of issues and ignore others, based on how useful those issues (and policies) will be for attaining power and attacking opponents. This partisan spectacle routinely harms the public by ignoring vital issues with long-term significance, while focusing public attention on nearly irrelevant sound-bites designed to misinform the public about their opponents. Elected politicians are also virtually incapable of deliberation, and seeing other sides of issues. They are bound by their election promises, party activists, etc. to pre-judge issues and commit to a position BEFORE they enter the chamber. Anyone who knows how legislatures actually work knows that NO DELIBERATION TAKES PLACE. It is all political showmanship to demonize opponents in preparation for the next election to keep or win power. ACTUAL deliberation requires a wide diversity of people who understand that they don’t already have all the answers. A random mini-public is an ideal way to gather such a body.

    Sortition allows generally impartial arbiters to set agendas without the harmful distortion and villainization that are driven by partisan electoral manipulation pressures. With an infinite number of possible agenda items, we can’t say there is an exact RIGHT democratic agenda…. merely a wide range of reasonably good, and also a vast number of extremely bad, possible agendas. Due to voter rational ignorance, politicians who are seeking to gain favor from ill-informed voters have no incentive to push agenda items (no matter how vital) that those ill-informed voters cannot be expected to support in a knee-jerk reaction. They DO have incentive to cater to well-informed special interests with campaign money. Only a well-informed and non-partisan group of impartial citizens who can take the needed time and effort have any hope of setting a good agenda. Voters (who don’t have the knowledge or time) AND politicians (who have campaign imperatives) CANNOT do this. However a smallish (perhaps 150 member) non-mandatory mini-public will certainly deviate in some ways from the mirror of the public (but this is inevitable and necessary due to the duration and work load… whether elected or allotted). Therefore, proposed laws need to be presented to a much larger quasi-mandatory mini-public for final decision.

    Finally to anticipate one of Yoram’s objections… A body that has proposed and deliberated on an issue and come to believe a certain thing is inherently unqualified to then judge their own handiwork and adopt the law as well. The proposers, refiners and final adopters should not be the same group of people. The doing of steps one or two makes those people incapable of fairly doing step three. We see this failure all the time in elected legislatures and we should not replicate this terrible design in a sortition democracy.

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  79. Thanks Terry,

    Just to be clear I’m not seeking to defend political parties and elections in their current form, but will have to await Alex Kovner’s reworking of our representative isegoria chapter before presenting our alternative proposal.

    >Sortition allows generally impartial arbiters to set agendas

    Even if a proposal body was constituted by an impartial mechanism (like sortition), it could end up highly partisan, depending on the mandate and length of service. Bear in mind that the US founders believed that their scheme for an extended republic was a prophylactic against partisan forces — Madison must be rolling in his grave and I’d hate you to end up the same way. And it’s a bold claim that allotted volunteers are “generally impartial” — such a body would be a magnet for the Tea Party and other advocacy groups. You seem to have a Machiavellian perspective on the innate virtue of the popolo, as your claim is that individual arbiters are generally impartial (rather than statistical impartiality as an emergent property of the body).

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