Sortition in German press, Citizens’ Council website

Just a couple of notable discussions of sortition in the German press from the last couple of months.

The first from the Frankfurter Allgemeine in August is entitled: “Can sortition save democracy?” After mentioning that in Germany, like in many other countries, satisfaction with actually existing democracy has been hovering around 50%, it delves somewhat IN DEPTH into the differences between elections and lot. Not surprisingly, it quotes Aristotle that “sortition” is democratic, while elections are aristocratic. And it discusses historical examples beyond Athens, in particular, the familiar mentions of Florence and Venice. It then discusses both the Irish Citizens Assembly, and the Buergerrat Demokratie citizens’ assembly in Germany–mentioning that the President of the Bundestag supports it and will take its recommendations seriously. It then discusses the Buergerrat Demokratie at length.

The second from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in September, entitled “An experiment to save democracy,” reports on the new Citizens Council, which amounts to a second chamber of Parliament, in East Belgium. It calls it a “world premier,” and allows readers to vote yes/no to the idea of whether citizens should be able to make laws. So far, the yeahs have it. It emphasizes that David van Reybrouk’s book, as well as the G1000, played important roles in bringing the idea of “aleatory democracy” to that part of Belgium.

Speaking of which, this is the website for the new Citizens’ Council in East Belgium.

Sortition has nearly gone mainstream, and the so-called “Neo-Athenian Revolution” is alive and well.

One Response

  1. I spoke to the lead organiser of the German “Bürgerrat Demokratie” a few days ago. Their (one-off) project cost more than a million euros.

    The media only mentions the two contributing foundations (Schöpflin and Merkator Stiftung) but interestingly, the bulk of the money (est. 80%) was contributed by about 10,000 members of the German NGO organising the assembly, called “Mehr Demokratie” (More Democracy, MD).

    MD will use the results of this private assembly to lobby for constitutional changes, to implement citizen juries. We will see how that goes in a party system.

    I want to point out a better option: Projects like Agora in Brussels or ours in Austria (name change pending) could practically win elections with those amounts of money, and legitimise sortition immediately.

    The German approach pushes for a constititional change, one specific variant of sortition to go into the constitution and be frozen there, this variant being whatever party politicians will approve and make out of it.

    The alternative, implementation via elections, progresses in a much more progressive way, in a competitive framework which is open for innovation so that different organisations may offer improved sortition protocols in a rapid succession.

    Isn’t that a much more interesting approach?

    PS: If somebody knows how to raise the 2 million euros or so needed to make at least the (anti-democratic) hurdle of 5% of votes in the Vienna elections, let me know.

    Liked by 2 people

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