The New Flemish Alliance does not want to see democracy turning into a “lottocracy”

A translation of an article from the Belgian La Libre.

Government reform: The New Flemish Alliance does not want to see democracy turning into a “lottocracy”
November 25, 2020

The government reform undertaken by the De Croo government cannot be a pretext for turning parliamentary democracy into a sortition-based system, warned on Wednesday the head of the N-VA (The New Flemish Alliance) in the Chamber of Representatives, Peter De Roover, during a discussion in the Constitution Committee on the presentation regarding political directions by the ministers for institutional reforms.

The new government drew up for the upcoming year a “platform of dialog” regarding the future of the Belgian federalism along the lines of that which is planned regarding the future of Europe. A “large scale consultation involving citizens, in particular young citizens, as well as civil society, universities, experts, and local authorities” will be undertaken, indicated the document by ministers David Clarinval and Annelies Verlinden.

The way in which citizens would be involved in the process raised questions among the nationalist opposition which asked whether the Vivaldi Coalition is going to resort to sortition, a method which was promoted over the last few years by some intellectuals. “I have more confidence in a body that was elected by the citizens than in a panel of allotted citizens”, emphasized De Roover who would not like to see democracy replaced by a “lottocracy”.

The N-VA specifically inquired regarding the powers which will be granted to this process. The recommendations which will be made, expected at the end of 2021, will be submitted to the government and will be transformed into a list of constitutional articles to be discussed by the next legislature. The nationalists wanted to know whether the citizens will have decision-making powers. And if the response is negative, then this process will doubtlessly appear to be an “empty shell”, they said.

The modalities by which the citizens will become involved in this process have not been defined yet. “It is not going to replace parliamentary democracy”, assured Verlinden in her presentation. When asked by the news channel LN24, Clarinval has mentioned sortition as well as citizens volunteering to participate in the exercise.

As for the reform itself, the N-VA has called attention to its confederal project, the only viable way, as they see things, in a Belgium which “is non-functional” and called for other parties to overcome the fears that this word conjures. “Confederalism is not independence. Belgium will still exist and will still be part of Europe”, emphasized the MP Sander Loones.

The two ministers did not mention the outlines of a future agreement between the members of the Vivaldi coalition. “We are not naive: the positions of the parties in this coalition are very different but we are all in agreement that we can find a better functioning structure and achieve better participation”, said Verlinden.

10 Responses

  1. [the minister] has mentioned sortition as well as citizens volunteering to participate in the exercise.

    It’s unfortunate to see these two categories lumped in together.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why is it so hard for people to comprehend that self-selection and random selection are profoundly different things? I see this all the time.

    Like

  3. The problem is that voluntary random selection and self-selection are closely linked. For a sample to truly mirror the target population, participation has to be quasi-mandatory (as in jury service). If only 4% of invitees accept the invitation then it isn’t a true sample (even if random selection was involved).

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  4. “I have more confidence in a body that was elected by citizens than in a panel of allotted citizens”.

    We have a saying in Spanish: A “idos de mi casa” o “qué queréis con mi mujer”, no hay que responder. This translates as: You must not reply to “get out of my house” or “what do you want from my wife”.

    If this gentleman has more confidence in an elected body, who am I to change his mind? Why should I even try?

    All I need is for him to acknowledge that I, personally, have a right to have more confidence in a panel of allotted citizens than in an elected body.

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  5. Sort,

    Most people have no problem distinguishing between allotment and self-selection. The established elite, however, perceive citizens as something to be used for their political purposes, not as a source of political power. So for them it matters very little whether the citizens are allotted or self-selected. In any case their “proposals” are merely “input” to be “considered” by the political elite.

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  6. Arturo,

    > All I need is for him to acknowledge that I, personally, have a right to have more confidence in a panel of allotted citizens than in an elected body.

    Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

    ― Frederick Douglass

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  7. The very fact that Belgian politicians feel the need to say this is a victory. We can measure our success to some degree by the active rejection we receive from mainstream politicians. The more, the better.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I very much agree with Alex. This is an indication Sortition is becoming a political alternative – something that needs to be argued against.

    Like

  9. Yoram,
    You did not get my point. The key word was not “acknowledge” but “I, personally”. As you know, I propose that every citizen should be able to choose his or her own path to representation, either aristocratic or democratic. This means that I won’t impose my preferences on De Roover — nor allow his own preferences to be imposed on me.
    This being said, I am perfectly aware that the De Roovers of this world will never give us that choice unless they are forced to. The good news is that a small size of the population (even less that the original yellow vests) can effectively block the economy of a country for weeks, until their right to political representation is respected.

    Like

  10. […] contexts in Germany: 1, 2, 3, 4. Sortition was also implemented or proposed in Switzerland, Belgium, Greece, the United States, and […]

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