Étienne Chouard: Public decision-making from the perspective of the common good: Breaking out of the electoral trap

What follows is the table of contents of a 2016 essay by Étienne Chouard, which Chouard describes as “my most recent methodical comparison between election and sortition”. I will publish my translation to English of the essay in several parts. The original French version is here.

Public decision-making from the perspective of the common good: Breaking out of the electoral trap
A comparison between election and allotment of representatives
Étienne Chouard, 2016
(Original in French, translation to English by Yoram Gat, 2020.)

Part I. A comparison of the general strengths and weaknesses of elections and allotment of representatives

  • (i) Elections infantilize, and in this way paralyze, the voters. They discourage thinking and defending the common good (whereas sortition does not)
    • 1. By definition, elections are aristocratic, whereas sortition is democratic
    • 2. By definition, elections are an abdication, a renunciation of the exercising of one’s sovereignty oneself, it is delegation, it is the renunciation of legislation, whereas sortition is the assertion of sovereignty
    • 3. Elections infantilize, strip of responsibility, dissuade from doing what is right, and distance the people from politics and the common good, whereas sortition encourages, and promotes responsibility for, doing the right thing
  • (ii) Elections put the worst in power (whereas sortition does not)
    • 1. Elections given power to those who desire it (whereas sortition does not)
    • 2. Elections encourage lying and favor the liars
    • 3. Elections produce masters, whereas sortition produces equals
    • 4. Elections produce uncontrolled masters, where as sortition does not
    • 5. Elections produce an uncontrollable caste of masters, whereas sortition does not
    • 6. Elections among candidates promote the formation parties, which are necessary in order to win a political war. This war, one camp against another, has a military logic, which requires the activists to obey and requires the mobilization of collective passions. Sortition does not
    • 7. Electoral candidates can be promoted, and therefore give power to the richest, whereas sortition does not
  • Conclusion of the first part

Part II. Comparison of different applications of sortition

  • (i) Principal applications of sortition in politics
    • 1. Sortition for appointing oversight bodies
    • 2. Sortition for appointing all or some of the legislators
    • 3. An allotted constitutional assembly, without which nothing else will come to pass
  • (ii) Constitutional workshops, a practical tool for popular education for training a multitude of citizen constitution-writers, guardians of the common good
    • 1. A citizen worthy of this name must be vigilant, and therefore a constitution-writer
    • 2. This transformation of voters-children into citizens-adults can only happen through practical popular education: a multitude of self-replicating small-scale constitutional workshops
  • Conclusion

2 Responses

  1. […] Public decision-making from the perspective of the common good: Breaking out of the electoral trap equalitybylot.com/2020/03/18/eti… […]


  2. […] published parts of this essay are the Introduction and Part […]


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