Is allotted citizen representation a matter of importance for civilization?

The following is an article published by a newly created civil group in Belgium – Collectif Cap Démocratie (Democracy Direction Collective). Original in French.

Human organizations are never static. They always evolve in one way or another and our Western democracies are no exception to this rule. Thus they are being increasingly contested. How would we like to see them evolve? In the Swiss direction, or in Putin’s direction?

It is for us, the citizens, to choose and decide.

The best way to protect our democracy is to fundamentally improve it. This is the goal of our recently created Collectif Cap Démocratie. What we want is a democracy which is stronger, which is more aligned with its fundamental values and principles.

What is our complaint towards our leaders?

We are poorly represented

We, the citizens of Wallonia, feel we are no longer represented, or are poorly represented, by elected officials locked-in by a game between the parties, by electoralism and by a career which distances them from the general interest and the real concerns of the population.

Our democratic system already contains within itself such challenges, demands and risks for disappointment that it will not survive by renouncing its fundamental values. Last May, in France, 50% of the voters voted for the extremes.

A major problem for our democracy is thus that of citizen representation.

Yet, there exists a different mode of citizen representation other than elections: sortition.

The interest in such a mode of representation is masterfully demostrated by David Van Reybrouck in he little book with the somewhat provocative title Against Elections.

The good example of Eupen

For Cap Démocratie, it is obviously not a matter of contesting the usefulness and the legitimacy of elections but to create in the Wallonian Region a permanent allotted citizen assembly, in the image of the one that exists since 2019 in Eupen, in the German-speaking Community of Belgium.

This second assembly being complementary, setting up a permanent dialogue with the elected parliament. The functioning of the German-speaking body shows that its cost is minimal, nothing in vicinity of the cost of the elected body.

Let’s trust our fellow German-speaking citizens: they are serious and well organized people. Experts from several European countries have participated in a 3-year process creating this assembly and they have done well! This is the case to such a point that people come from the entire world to Eupen in order to understand how things work. In fact, this body is unique in the world due to its permanent nature.

Improving the foundations of our system

It is clear that this allotted citizen assembly, freed from electoral constraints, will have on many subjects an opinion which is very different from that of the elected parliament. In particular on subjects where the interests of the citizens those of the politicians are in nearly head-on opposition.

If we want to save our model of Western democracy and its values at all costs, we have to improve its foundations. Is it normal that in a system which was in principle designed to serve the citizen, the citizen has no say for the 5 years which separate regional elections? The experience of the German-speaking community of Belgium is a beginning of an answer to this heavy question.

It is for us, the Wallonian citizens, to demand the creation of such a device in the Wallonian Region. Let us wake up because a solution exists! What are we waiting for?

It is for this reason that we have recently created the Collectif Cap Démocratie and that we are addressing the Wallonian Parliament the following petition:

Petition for the creation of citizen assemblies in the Wallonian Region

We the citizens of Wallonia are asking the Wallonian parliament to form a deliberative commission composed of members of parliament and of allotted citizens in order to debate the following matter: Being largely inspired by the “Permanent citizen dialog” in the German-speaking community, discuss the opportunity for creating such a permanent institution in the Wallonian Region.

In fact, we are concerned by the general syndrome of democratic disinterest caused by the feeling that our parties act like interest groups, and are hardly able to take account of the general interest and consider just and creative solutions responding to the needs of all.

The pertinence and the quality of the deliberations carried out in allotted citizen assembly have been demonstrated, in Belgium, as well as in other countries in Europe and beyond.

Improving our democracy is the best way to protect it!

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