Extinction Rebellion claims the Scottish Citizens’ Assembly on the climate is rigged

The Scottish Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Emergency is an allotted body created by the 2019 Climate Act that is mandated to answer the question “How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in a fair and effective way?”.

The Extinction Rebellion organization was part of the process of setting up this body and its procedures. It has now quit the process claiming that the process has been rigged. “Rather than enabling a full spectrum of opinions to be heard, so people can come to their own conclusions, and make their own assessment of the value of current policy and targets, business as usual has been allowed to creep in and then take over.”

In an op-ed written by Extinction Rebellion members, they explain that civil servants have control over the design of the proceedings and those civil servants are happy with the status quo. In terms of how the rigging is done, they say:

Deliberations won’t be allowed to start until people have fully understood the difference between adaptation and mitigation responses, and the different government policy frameworks at a national and international level.

Those of us who have been talking about climate in different communities for years know very well this background understanding is not only not necessary – there’s a huge risk of disengagement from the very people we need to hear from.

People need to understand enough of the science, especially in terms of real-world impacts, but then need to judge for themselves the effectiveness or otherwise of our response so far: have the powerful’s many fine words led to any changes on the ground?

39 Responses

  1. The assembly should discuss the definition of the question by itself, with access to whatever resources it requests. Any attempt to enforce definitions of terms before the assembly convenes to consider the question is a corruption of the process. Discuss?

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  2. “…civil servants have control over the design of the proceedings…”

    The design can be done pluralistically. Use the Superminority rule!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Something that will make you laugh Yoram. Greenpeace said exactly the same thing about the CCC organized in France, see how it ended :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alex,

    > Use the Superminority rule!

    Can you explain why elite groups should be granted any formally privileged status in the political arena?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Romain,

    > Something that will make you laugh Yoram. Greenpeace said exactly the same thing about the CCC organized in France, see how it ended :)

    Interesting. Do you have a link?

    Why do you find the fact that elite manipulation is a recurring accusation ironic? Of course, neither Greenpeace nor Extinction Rebellion are the only ones voicing such suspicions – they have been raised on all sides. The claims that the CCC’s proposals have been essentially determined by an unrepresentative Liberal-Green elite have been very common. Whether or not established powers do manage to control the policy decisions or proposals, suspicions about this potential seems very justified.

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  6. Yoram:> Can you explain why elite groups should be granted any formally privileged status in the political arena?

    Because, given the appropriate decision threshold, the number of groups will correspond closely to the beliefs and preferences of all citizens. This is explained in detail in Alex’s superminority post.

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  7. Alastair,

    > The assembly should discuss the definition of the question by itself, with access to whatever resources it requests. Any attempt to enforce definitions of terms before the assembly convenes to consider the question is a corruption of the process.

    I very much agree. There is an issue of bootstrapping here, however. The body, like any independent body, needs to organize itself. This is not a trivial matter. It takes time to allow for learning. This is why there need to be permanent, long term allotted bodies that can undertake this process of self-organization. The whole one-off bodies trend is therefore inherently problematic.

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  8. Yoram:> This is why there need to be permanent, long term allotted bodies that can undertake this process of self-organization

    Thereby become an unrepresentative aleatory oligarchy, devoid of democratic legitimacy.

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  9. Just using the label “elite” does not allow you to delegitimize anything you want. Critique my system and I’m happy to respond, but just using the word “elite” as an epithet isn’t really a critique.

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  10. > Critique my system and I’m happy to respond

    Well, it seems that you are not, but suit yourself.

    A system where elite groups are granted the privileged position of holding a monopoly over policy proposals is obviously anti-democratic. Presumably you would also assert that a system where members of a hereditary nobility generate policy proposals and allotted juries select among those is “pluralistic”.

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  11. Yoram,

    They are only elite in the sense that the voting public accords them that status. In our joint proposal anyone can make policy proposals by forming a political party, which (if it tracked popular beliefs and preferences) would have a good chance of having the policies considered by an allotted jury. We anticipate that the (de facto) entry threshold for policy proposals will be considerably less than at present. It’s hard to imagine a more democratic way of making policy proposals in large modern states. It’s certainly far more democratic than restricting it to a tiny group of persons selected by lot.

    On a general note it’s puzzling that your criterion for democracy is any political system in which the masses trust their rulers (as they believe they are serving their interests). Yet the one exception is when citizens put their trust in a political party (unless the party has a monopoly, as in Russia and China). Why do you exclude Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin from condemnation under the principle of distinction?

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  12. Yoram:> “A system where elite groups…”

    Again you use the word “elite” like it’s Thor’s Hammer, crushing everything it touches. It isn’t. Any political system for a large nation state (democratic or otherwise) is ultimately going to be a hybrid system. It’s going to involve some professionals, some randomly chosen citizens, and some officials who must act as referees of the system itself. The question is how do these pieces fit together.

    Yoram:> “…of holding a monopoly over policy proposals…”

    The Superminority rule is explicitly anti-monopolistic. It requires legislators to write a law while looking over their shoulders, knowing that each of the other legislative groups in the chamber is trying to write a better one.

    Yoram:> “Presumably you would also assert that a system where members of a hereditary nobility..”

    Where on earth do you get this garbage? Elections have problems, but they are not the same as a hereditary elite. Why would you even make such a ridiculous comparison?

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  13. > hybrid system

    Ok. It’s good to have the cat out of the bag: you are not aiming for a democratic system but for “a hybrid system” – i.e., a system where some elite groups have more power than their share in the population would merit. That certainly answers my question about why you want to grant elites a formal privileged status.

    > garbage

    Heh. The masks are off. The mild mannered technocrat turns out to be a crass propagandist throwing around abuse. Yes, non-substantive dismissal is always much easier to come up with than a substantive response to a substantive critique. But of course the down side is that it makes for a very poor argument.

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  14. Yoram,

    Two points:

    1) In large multicultural states hybrid mechanisms are necessary to secure democratic outcomes.

    2) Rule by a small long-serving voluntary allotted group (or a number of groups) with full speech rights is a form of oligarchy.

    We have gone over the reasons for this many, many times before and there’s no point repeating them to someone with their fingers in their ears. You and I have been debating on this forum for over ten years and I’m proud to say that my views have changed dramatically over this period as a result of the exchange of arguments. I have noticed a change in your views very recently — you used to believe in sortition as a form of descriptive representation that was essential to a functioning democracy. But recently you appear to be saying that democracy is just a form of government in which the masses trust their rulers (no representation required) and that, on this measure, Russia and China are more democratic than multi-party electoral regimes.

    I don’t think this forum is the place to make this sort of claim, which runs the risk of bringing sortition into disrepute so, as convenor of EbL, I do think you should consider your position. Unfortunately you won’t even read this comment, as it is authored by the establishment lickspittle and capitalist apologist “Sutherland” and the anathema now appears to be extended to his sidekick, Alex Kovner.

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  15. Yoram:> “Ok. It’s good to have the cat out of the bag: you are not aiming for a democratic system but for “a hybrid system”

    All practical democratic systems are hybrid systems, even the Athenian models had semi-professionals keeping things moving. Purity is a death trap.

    Yoram:> “Heh. The masks are off. The mild mannered technocrat turns out to be a crass propagandist throwing around abuse.”

    I’m flattered, really, but you have only yourself to blame for wanting to be taken seriously when equating elections with inherited position. My description of your nonsense was simply accurate.

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  16. In all honesty, Yoram, what is your project? Shouting down everyone on your own website? Doesn’t seem very satisfying.

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  17. Yes, I’m afraid that seems to be true. And it is very off-putting to reasonable folk, who just want to have a serious discussion on this topic. The normal role of the blog convenor is to remove ad hominem remarks, rather than to originate them.

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  18. Alex:> even the Athenian models had semi-professionals keeping things moving

    And, in the fourth century the assembly elected spokesmen to defend the existing laws in the nomothetai (legislative courts). I imagine that the principle of distinction played a strong role in who got to be elected. But, according to Yoram, the only democratic element in the Athenian system was the Council of 500 (even though we know next to nothing about the internal workings of this institution).

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  19. Keith:> in the fourth century the assembly elected spokesmen to defend the existing laws in the nomothetai (legislative courts).

    Do you know exactly what the current disagreement(s) about the nomothetai are among scholars of Classical Athens?

    I gather (from you I think) that some say (or at least one says) that the nomothetai were just a special session of the Assembly. Do those who say that, also say that this session was conducted in a trial-like way with several citizens elected by the Assembly to present the case in favour of the existing law, with those proposing the new law presenting the case for the new law, and with each side being given equal time? Is there some accessible article summarizing what is actually debated on these basic points?

    That is, do those who say the nomothetai were a special session of the Assembly (and not a lot-chosen body) agree that the procedures were the same as those described by Hanson regarding what he held (and holds?) to be a lottery chosen body of nomothetai?

    (If the procedures are agreed to be the same either way, I do not think it makes much difference to us who is correct re a Greek precedent for legislative juries.)

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  20. Alex:> “…civil servants have control over the design of the proceedings…”
    The design can be done pluralistically. Use the Superminority rule!

    If you are saying the design should be decided by jury, based on a diversity of people/groups able to propose designs to such juries, I agree. (Maybe instead some nonpartisan good governance group with expertise in sortition could be entrusted with the design, but I think it better that they and others propose designs and that juries decide which design will be used. I have usually proposed that a commission chosen by jury by a proportional representation method be among the bodies that proposes the designs for jury decision-making, with each member being able to propose, or, in your terminology, being a “superminority.)

    In your “superminority” post you are I think talking about a popularly elected parliament. (I think “superminority” is a good term and a good play on the existing term “supermajority.” It is distinct from a mere minority, and accords with superminorities being equal to majorities and even “supermajorities” when it comes to proposing laws to legislative juries, {although i’m not quite sure you say they would be entirely equal in that regard})

    I’m not quite sure how you see the superminority idea applying here. Are you saying that members of the Scottish Parliament should put forward design proposals, and that a jury should decide between them, and perhaps also have the power to reject all of them and tell the parliamentarians to come up with something better?

    ———

    More generally, transferring the power to decide laws to legislative juries with parliamentary superminorities able to propose laws to such juries would be a huge improvement on what we have now. The size of such superminorities could and should of course be decided by jury (and obviously not by parliamentarians).

    However, we disagree about popular election, and the limiting of the proposing power to officials chosen by popular election. In a nod to Yoram, I don’t think limiting the proposing power to for example the popularly elected oligarchy comprising the US Congress would be a good idea.

    I prefer that jury-chosen commissions have the power to propose laws, and that civil society groups do too (for example in a manner than is a jury analog of the signature and popular election parts of the ballot inititiative). I also think it much better that professional politicians (such as the US Congress and president) be chosen by jury, not by popular election (so that they will be chosen by the informed judgement of very representative portions of the public, with all those interested in seeking a public office being placed on a level, fair and open playing field). We’ve had this discussion before. We do agree on some rather crucial points.

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  21. Simon:> Do you know exactly what the current disagreement(s) about the nomothetai are among scholars of Classical Athens?

    We discussed Mirko Canevaro’s challenge to Hansen here (references included): https://equalitybylot.com/2019/02/21/were-4th-century-nomothetai-selected-by-lot/

    >If the procedures are agreed to be the same either way, I do not think it makes much difference to us who is correct re a Greek precedent for legislative juries.

    That’s true, but the argument is over whether it was the whole assembly (wearing a different hat) or a randomly-selected subset that decided the outcome, so that is relevant to the overall focus of this blog. But I don’t think there is any dispute over the fact that the defenders of the old laws were elected, the advocacy evenly balanced (by the use of a water clock) and the “jury” deliberated in silence before deciding the outcome by voting. So no dispute over procedures (other than the jury selection method).

    >I don’t think limiting the proposing power to for example the popularly elected oligarchy comprising the US Congress would be a good idea.

    I’ll leave it to Alex to respond in detail, but the superminority reforms we are proposing (along with the separation of the proposing and disposing functions) will lead to a Congress that is very different from the current beast. It would be more like a collection of think tanks, although each one would have to have the support of a significant minority of the electorate (what “significant” means would depend on the proposal threshold), and would also be held accountable over time in the Bayesian sense (voters would lose confidence in a party that consistently made unworkable proposals).

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  22. Simon,

    The Superminority rule in this case would mean that the various factions (superminorities) within parliament would get to set the structure of the Assembly for a fraction of the time. Using a superminority of 3, say, would divided the Assembly’s time into thirds and have each of the three superminority groups run the assembly for that time.

    That would ensure that the experience of the Assembly was at least minimally pluralistic, in a way that reflects society at large.

    Simon:> “If you are saying the design should be decided by jury,…”

    Not sure exactly what you mean here. Juries only decided from predefined options, they never generate options themselves. I guess you could have a format decided from options sent to in under the Superminority rule by the Scottish Legislature.

    Simon:> “However, we disagree about popular election, and the limiting of the proposing power to officials chosen by popular election.”

    The problem here is that the proposals must reflect the ideological diversity of the population. I don’t know how to do this except through some form of election, though I’m all ears if you have a better idea. Picking a group at random doesn’t work in this case because such a group reflects the whole society, not any particular ideological perspective.

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  23. Alex;> Picking a group at random doesn’t work in this case because such a group reflects the whole society, not any particular ideological perspective.

    Whilst that may sound attractive to consensus-based deliberative democrats (and those who believe in the general will), it would mean that it would not generate the necessary diversity to give the jury a genuine choice.

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  24. The key point is that elections are a very bad way to decide which people in society get to make proposals (whether majoritarian or “super-minority” proportional). Voters are inevitably ill-informed, and lots of political psychology research indicates tribal loyalty rather than policy dominates election choices. The assertion that “voters would lose confidence in a party that consistently made unworkable proposals,” has no evidence to support it. Voters who “believe” in their party don’t behave like that. Less involved voters are simply clueless about the policies that advanced or failed.

    The best way to get a diversity of proposals is to let any group that wants submit proposals. Let the oil industry form a group, and let the Extinction Rebellon group submit a proposal, as well as a group of university professors, truck drivers, and groups that are a mishmash of ordinary people in a citizens’ assembly. Each of these interest groups have an incentive to draft something that can pass muster with informed juries, rather than merely generate an extremist wish list of their favorite ideas. A Review mini-public can review all these proposals and decide what gets presented (with pro and con arguments) to a DECISION MAKING jury. These groups will present both better and worse proposals than elected politicians will. But the citizenry (through a mini-public process) gets to select the gold nugget amongst the chaff.

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  25. Terry:> Let the oil industry form a group, and let the Extinction Rebellion group submit a proposal, as well as a group of university professors, truck drivers, and groups that are a mishmash of ordinary people in a citizens’ assembly.

    That would certainly create diversity, but would directly contradict democratic norms. Given that the vast majority of citizens will be disenfranchised by the move to decision making by allotted juries, this will mean that they will have no involvement whatsoever in determining the rules which govern them. Do you really think that would be acceptable?

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  26. And I think they might be a bit put out to learn that they are “ill-informed”, “tribal”, and “clueless”.

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  27. Terry:> ‘The assertion that “voters would lose confidence in a party that consistently made unworkable proposals,”…’

    You are misunderstanding what we said. Voters will lose confidence in parties that cannot get their proposals through the jury. Voters don’t like losers, and they don’t like to waste their votes. Your formulation makes it sound as though the voters themselves are judging the policies, which is not the case. Voters can’t judge policy well, that’s for sure, but they can judge whether they are voting for a winner or a loser. Just ask a Knicks fan.

    If you want, you can think of our plan as a transitional one, toward yours. I don’t think it would ever get there, but if your view is correct, then the next reform is to open the proposal space to outside groups.

    I think you’re missing the fact that any change for now must involve traditional legislatures in some capacity. You’re just not getting rid of them any time soon. The advantage of Superminority is it flips the script on them, and gets ordinary citizens hooked on their true starring role in democracy: as final decision makers.

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  28. Alex:> Juries only decided from predefined options, they never generate options themselves.

    I think the power to decide laws should reside with legislative juries, not with for example elected politicians. We agree on this. We also agree that legislative juries should not propose laws. Instead laws should be proposed to legislative juries from bodies that are independent from them.

    Alex:> proposals must reflect the ideological diversity of the population. I don’t know how to do this except through some form of election, though I’m all ears if you have a better idea. Picking a group at random doesn’t work in this case because such a group reflects the whole society, not any particular ideological perspective.

    I agree that proposals need to reflect the diversity of views and ideology in the society. Here are some ways this can be done in addition to popular election (which I think is a very flawed way to choose public officials, and which Terry keeps trying to explain to us is not the way to go).
    1. Let public interest groups propose laws to legislative juries, possibly once every two years following the bi-annual schedule now used for ballot initiative proposals in the US states that have the initiative. This would provide diversity. However, it is also flawed as not all views are represented by effective public interest groups, and better funded public interest groups may be able to do higher quality work (which is plutocratic rather than being entirely democratic).
    2. As I keep saying, choosing public officials by popular election is 100% not necessary for democracy. Instead a jury can choose a public official, or could choose several public officials by a proportional representation voting method. Juries that choose public officials can be called “election juries” and “selection juries.” They are an analog of popular election, but with the voting being done by a representative random sample of the of the electorate, not all of the electorate. For example, a member of the House of Representatives would be chosen by a random sample of the citizens in their district. (Election juries are well-suited for choosing public official on an informed basis, with all those interested in seeking the public office being placed on a level and open playing field and being given equal time to present the case for their candidacy to the election jury, and with, due to random sampling, all portions of the public represented on election juries in proportion to their number.)
    3. A commission chosen by jury by a proportional representation method could propose laws to legislative juries. Each of the commissioners would be able to propose laws to a legislative jury. The commission could have general jurisdiction (be able to propose laws on anything), or it could have a specific mandate (for example to propose laws regarding pollution of land, air and water, or for example on healthcare).
    4. If a proposal jury does not agree on what to propose on some topic, the minority on that jury can make a minority proposal with both proposals going to a legislative jury for a final decision.
    (See Threlkeld June 22, 2020 for my latest article setting out my proposal for democratic lawmaking using juries.)

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  29. Keith, Thank you re reply on the nomothetai. Much appreciated. I think whether the legislative jury or legislative Assembly theory is correct, it is a good historical precedent for legislative juries deciding laws after a trial-like process.

    Alex, I think your description of voters picking parties/politicians like sports teams that win and lose their matches is very good.

    Keith:> Given that the vast majority of citizens will be disenfranchised by the move to decision making by allotted juries, this will mean that they will have no involvement whatsoever in determining the rules which govern them. Do you really think that would be acceptable?

    This is a real concern, it seems to me. Popular election is something people are very used to, and replacing popular election with juries may be portrayed as “disenfranchising the public.”

    If replacing popular election with election juries (juries that elect public officials) is not politically viable, my fall-back position is to replace as many popular elections as possible with jury elections, and in cases where popular election continues, to replace popular election primaries (and other methods of choosing candidates for general elections) with jury elections (jury primaries). In this scenario, election juries (primary juries) would winnow those seeking a public office down to the top few (preferably using a proportional representation voting method such as multi-winner ranked choice voting) who would then proceed to the general election. Those who so proceed should be given equal and ample public funding, and automatically be in the general election’s televised candidate debates which could be run by a commission chosen by jury. All those proceeding to the general election could also be in a voter information booklet made available to every household and online.

    If the power to decide laws is shifted to legislative juries, it can be expected that the public will be even less attentive to popular elections for politicians than they are now, and that voter turnout will decline (and the empirical evidence is clear that the lower the voter turnout the less representative of the public those who vote are). This is all the more reason to switch to jury elections for choosing public officials.

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  30. Just a quick note, in all cases I use elections, they are to choose parties, not candidates. Party strength is then used to allocate proposing rights. I do not believe in any election for a person.

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  31. Simon,

    I think we need to avoid complex solutions (if at all possible). The nice thing about Alex’s proposal is that it can be expressed in a single sentence:

    Reduce the proposal threshold in the legislature and summons a jury to decide the outcome.

    Apart from that it’s just a case of tweaking the numbers. If the proposal threshold is 20% then there will be five proposals for every new statute and around five political parties. That would much better represent the diversity of interests, beliefs and preferences in the nation than our present arrangements. Perhaps five will be too cumbersome (i.e. expensive) in practice, so it could be four or three. Anything is better than one, hence Alex’s term “superminority”. As for the size of the jury this would depend on the importance of the issue — I calculated that for Brexit it would have needed a jury of around 6,000 to deliver a verdict that would reliably reflect the considered preferences of the nation.

    >replace popular election primaries (and other methods of choosing candidates for general elections) with jury elections (jury primaries)

    Apart from the complexity problem, history teaches us to beware of unintended consequences. I’m sure the US Founding Fathers meant well with their electoral colleges, but just look what we ended up with!

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  32. Keith and Alex Nov 11 20

    Alex:> elections, they are to choose parties, not candidates

    I thought that was your position, thanks for clarifying.

    I do not think it a good idea to give political parties a monopoly over making legislative proposals to legislative juries, nor do I favour elections where people can only vote for parties and not for individuals. Nor do I think popular election is democratic (it is a method of unrepresentative portions of the public voting for candidates or parties on a poorly informed basis, from a heavily skewed and curtailed playing field).

    I do agree on the key point of juries deciding laws based on a variety of proposals on each topic. I think we also agree that a basic objective of the design is to ensure that the proposals that juries would prefer to all others are among the proposals that get made (and I appreciate that what you propose goes a fair distance in that direction).

    Political parties have too many self-interests that can conflict with the public good. Popular election is too undemocratic a method of electing them.

    Keith:> the US Founding Fathers meant well with their electoral colleges, but just look what we ended up with!

    Election juries are a democratic version of the undemocratic Electoral College.

    I imagine that many reformers in the past meant well by a system of rule by popularly elected politicians, but just look what we ended up with!

    Keith:> I think we need to avoid complex solutions (if at all possible).

    Jury elections are not a more complex idea than popular election.

    They are also a lot less complex, or at any rate much more accessible, for those who wish to seek public office, because no great sums of money, nor the nomination of a political party, nor a lot of media coverage, are needed for a candidate to make an effective case for their candidacy directly to the jury face-to-face.

    “Elect public officials by jury,” is not a complex idea. Nor is “replace popular election primaries with primaries conducted by jury.”

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  33. Simon:> I don’t really disagree with your criticisms of general elections, it’s just that I don’t see the public accepting a system without some form of general election anytime soon. Placing a citizen jury on the far side of the legislature and forcing the legislature to cater to the jury seems the best way to pry away the death-grip of traditional legislature.

    I agree with you that jury elections are superior to general elections. Again, however, I just don’t think you’re going to get there in one step.

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  34. Alex, we agree on much.

    I of course agree that we are a long long way from convincing most people that jury elections should replace popular elections (few have ever heard of the idea). I also think/agree that transferring the power to decide laws to legislative juries is probably the most important reform that is needed (provided they receive a range of considered and well-written legislative proposals that are, as you observe, reflective of the ideological diversity found among the public).

    Possibly switching to jury elections is most realistic, at least to begin with, regarding those popular elections that have the least public support and that are the most obviously ridiculous, such as elections for judges (in judicial elections the public typically know nothing about the candidates other than party label if it is on the ballot, or what they can guess about gender or ethnicity from the name, and popular election is a very inappropriate way to choose officials that are supposed to be independent from political parties and moneyed interests), and such as primary elections (some prominent American political scientists think primary elections should be abolished because of their democratic deficits). Also, as I think you have gathered, I think that the independent and supposedly independent public officials now chosen by politicians should be chosen by jury, a view that I’m guessing many or most would agree with regarding some, many or all of such officials.

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  35. Alex,
    >”any change for now must involve traditional legislatures in some capacity. You’re just not getting rid of them any time soon.”
    Of course, but my proposed transition is to wean society of elected legislatures one issue area at a time… transferring policy development to an open-source process and law adoption to mini-public action for more and more policy domains. Gradualist.

    Keith,
    Your concern about the complexity of systems is legitimate. But it is hard to imagine a more complex system than the nomination, campaign, and election system we currently have. My sortition design is dramatically LESS Byzantine and less expensive. However, path dependence is real… Because we currently HAVE the elections system it does not seem as complex as if we were trying to create it from scratch, while the novelty of a sortition system, even though simpler, seems complex by comparison simply because it requires change. That is why I propose a gradualist peeling away of policy domains.

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  36. There are complexities that are being overlooked with the idea of presenting several competing proposals to a jury. Alex, since you know a bit about voting methods theory, how do you imagine dealing with dilemmas and tactical voting paradoxes like Condorcet cycles, raising turkeys, etc. Merely the sequence in which the jury considers the proposals can be decisive.

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  37. Terry, although our slogan:

    Reduce the proposal threshold in the legislature and summons a jury to decide the outcome.

    conceals multiple complexities it has the (dubious) advantage that it is well within the upper limit of a tweet and is based entirely on existing practices (electing legislatures and summoning juries). Although we can’t possibly know exactly how how it would work out in practice, Alex has suggested that the focus will be shifted from persons to parties, that they will better reflect ideology/policy preferences and that Bayesian considerations will mean that parties will be judged (partly) on competence. In the UK new parties rise and fall with comparative ease (Social Democrats, UKIP, Brexit etc) as there are no requirements for primaries. The other advantage of our proposal is that it will not involve blowing up the constitution and starting from Ground Zero.

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  38. Terry:> “how do you imagine dealing with dilemmas and tactical voting paradoxes…”

    The Schulze Method produces a single winner regardless of cycles at the top (unless there is a true tie, of course, where two candidates are truly identical in terms of support), so I am not so worried about that. If there is a non-trivial “Smith Set” (i.e. a cycle of candidates that beats everyone outside the cycle) perhaps a new jury could be called to look only at the Smith set, but this is overkill from my point of view. For one thing, tactical voting can be quite hard with a good aggregation algorithm, and for another, tactical voting depends on knowledge of how others intend to vote. Since my juries do not meet in full, only in small groups at most, this should not be a problem.

    More broadly, these problems exists for any system of ranked voting, not just mine, so I am not sure why they would be existential issues for my system but not others. They are real problems, but they are practical and by no means existential. If you are trying to get rid of such problems entirely, then the Gibbard–Satterthwaite theorem is going to be a real problem for you. But tactical voting depends on knowledge of how others are going to vote. Since juries for me never meet in full, but only in small groups, such knowledge is limited.

    As far as “raising turkeys” goes, if I understand what you mean, that basically just says that if an alternative is in last place with all voters, then that alternative cannot win. This is not a problem with “naive” voting, but perhaps, you are thinking of strategies such as the Myerson-Weber strategy. Certainly this strategy poses problems (less to Condorcet methods than to scoring methods), but I really don’t think most people will do this in practice. Even calculating one’s “utility” is not a simple conceptual task. I’m just not sure these academic approaches to ranked voting have much to do with voting in practice. As a simple safeguard, however, jurors should, once chosen, start service immediately (no delay or waiting period) and should swear an oath to list their preferences honestly. I also think jurors should give up social media and other general contacts for the duration of service, though a true sequester should be reserved for extreme situations. In other words, I am much more concerned with jury tampering (perhaps including exhortations to vote strategically) than I am with actual jurors looking up the Myerson-Weber strategy (or any other).

    I have thought about the sequence in which the options are considered, but this can be controlled within the jury. They jury (in my view) should not meet as a whole, but in small groups that are deliberately kept independent. In that case, each small group can consider the proposals in a different order, so that an equal number of people see each order.

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  39. Alex,

    I fear my follow-up question takes this Blog comment section too far down the rabbit hole of voting theory… Can you send me an email so I have your email address and send you a bit more. You can send to me terrybour_at_gmail.com

    Like

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