Association Pour la Rotation Et la Sortition (L’APRES)

This post was written by NemoNihilis one of the co-founder of l’APRES (not my pseudonym). Come and visit our website https://sortition.fr

The goal of this association is to turn debates into discussions. Our objective is meta-political, that is to say we discuss the politic of how to do politic in order to promote diversity. We aim to provide tools for people fed up by a discourse monopolized by those who speak the loudest, or absent of the voices of those with less self assurance and crucially. We offer two solutions to these problems.

I. Rotating moderation

The moderator gives the floor to people asking to speak, or request to hear someone’s opinion. However, their work doesn’t end there and they can also choose to keep or change the topic(s) of discussion.

Traditionally, a group would elects a single moderator for the entire meeting, but our association proceeds differently. We rotate the role every X (often 20) minutes or less because the moderator can choose to end their mandate anytime even before it begins. It is then the turn of the person to their left to take over this role.

What about sortition in all of this? Continue reading

Only two days left to vote!

The poll for the change to the subtitle of this blog ends on Tuesday, yet currently only .02% of the “electorate” have recorded their preferences. This might seem like a trivial matter, but it crucially affects the range and scope of the posts submitted. The blog was founded by Conall Boyle and others some ten years ago in order to discuss the work of those with an interest in lotteries for equal distribution and social justice — see for example Barbara Goodwin’s Justice by Lottery. However the blog soon became dominated by those (like Yoram and myself) exploring the political potential of sortition in reforming (or replacing) electoral democracy. This change of focus seems to meet the needs of most contributors and readers but it would be a tragedy if those working on other aspects of sortition felt excluded by an over-prescriptive sub-title. If you look at the book series Sortition and Public Policy you’ll see that around half of the titles are devoted to the non-political use of lot. And many theorists dealing with the political potential of sortition, for example Oliver Dowlen and Peter Stone are unpersuaded regarding the use of sortition for democratic representation (they focus more on the Blind Break as an arational prophylactic against factionalism). So it would be good if the new subtitle reflected the full range of interest in sortition. If you want to vote, just go to the Online Poll, look at the list of “candidates”, choose your preference(s) and post a comment, it’s that easy!

C.E. Johnson: The Democracy Machine

C.E. Johnson is a multi-disciplinary visual artist working and living in Alabama.
Johnson’s work The Democracy Machine is currently on exhibit in the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans. The work is inspired the Athenian kleroterion. It

can be used as an object of meditation for healing in a time of disillusionment with Alabama-based politics. It is an artifact from an alternate history of the state where elections were given up to pure chance and a monument to the ideals of democracy in its authentic form.

Macron’s vaccine ‘citizen panel’ is doomed to fail

A column by Keith Sutherland and Alex Kovner in the The Spectator:

France has a problem when it comes to the coronavirus vaccine. Emmanuel Macron’s administration has so far only given out around 5,000 vaccines, and France has one of the lowest levels of trust in the coronavirus vaccine in the world, with only 40 per cent of the public saying they want to be inoculated. Faced with this trust deficit, Macron has proposed a 35-member ‘citizen panel’ to oversee France’s vaccination programme. The body, made up of a random selection of French citizens, will be responsible for monitoring and advising the government when it comes to the vaccine roll-out.

Subtitle change vote


Following the call for proposals for changing the subtitle of this blog, we have the following proposals:

  1. The blog of the Kleroterians (i.e., keep the subtitle as is.)
  2. The political potential of sortition
  3. Sortition as a democratic tool
  4. No democracy without sortition
  5. Because you can’t have democracy when you don’t have sortition
  6. The democratic potential of sortition
  7. Sorting out sortition
  8. A blog to sort out sortition
  9. Maximus in minimis
  10. Put the man in the street in the catbird seat
  11. Democratic lotteries and the potential of sortition
  12. Selection by lot
  13. Selecting political decision-makers the way we select jurors
  14. More democracy by random selection of citizens
  15. Better democracy through sortition
  16. Renewing democracy through sortition
  17. More democracy by haphazardly selected citizens
  18. Sortition: next step for democracy
  19. The political potential of democratic lotteries and sortition
  20. More democracy via sortition
  21. Democracy and the potential of sortition
  22. Sortition is the future of democracy
  23. Better politics through sortition
  24. Sortition, impartiality, equality, People’s rule
  25. Democracy through sortition
  26. Sortition for democracy, fairness and good governance

(I tried to include no more than two proposals by each person. If you feel that there are fewer than 2 of your proposals on the list, or if you otherwise feel that your proposals were unfairly excluded, please let me know as soon as possible.)

Ideally, I would go with proportional representation, so that each subtitle would be used part of the time, where the part is determined by the proportion of the votes it got. However, I am afraid this is technically difficult. (Maybe we can consider changing the subtitle every year?)

As we all know, there are no good voting schemes, so we are left with using a bad one. I suggest then that we use ranked choice. Please respond in the comments below with exactly one ordered list of subtitles from the list above representing your order of preference. Voting closes in a week.

Samarajiva: Sortition, How Could It Be Worse?

Indi Samarajiva, a writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka, writes:

Abolish Politicians — Why We Should Just Put Random People In Office

Even the Athenians had elections for certain positions, like generals, jobs requiring expertise. Then the question is, doesn’t being a modern legislator require expertise? Look, it certainly wouldn’t hurt, but look around. Are we ruled by experts? This hypothetical is really not how things have worked out, and we’ve tried it for decades.

Today we elect the children of past rulers, which is straight feudal, and the people that scream the loudest, which is straight demagoguery, and people who simple have enough money to run, which is straight oligarchy. The only people that get there by pure merit are hard-working criminals and a few excellent speakers and true leaders. We act like the latter is the rule, when in fact it is the exception. We’re literally sending our worst.

The arguments against sortition are that we need educated, experienced people in Parliament, but these are fundamentally classist notions.

The whole idea of ‘education’ or qualification is based on the idea that a third-generation Harvard fuckboi is a better person than a plumber. It’s based on the idea that rich criminals must be doing something right, so why not run for office? It’s the idea that stay-at-home moms are dumber than lawyers, or that a poor person cannot possibly contribute to our democracy. The ancients would say yes to a lot of this, but they would do it at the citizenship level. Because they weren’t hypocrites. We need to drop the hypocrisy and look at our actual values, and if we’re living up to them.
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Changing Equality-by-Lot’s subtitle

It has been suggested that the current subtitle of this blog (“The blog of the Klerotarians”) is esoteric and may be both discouraging for potential readers and detrimental to the blog’s search engine ranking (specifically, when searching for “sortition”).

Several alternative subtitles have been suggested – listed below. If you have other ideas, please add them in the comments. (Please no more than 2 per person.) In a week I will create a post asking readers to vote for their preferred proposal.

While we are discussing this, maybe we should consider changing the banner image as well? The kleroterion is a bit of a cliché at this point, in my opinion, and it may not be the most attractive piece of graphics to represent sortition. Any ideas about a new banner?

Proposals for subtitles:

  • The blog of the Klerotarians (i.e., keep the subtitle as is.)
  • The political potential of sortition
  • Sortition as a democratic tool
  • No democracy without sortition
  • Because you can’t have democracy when you don’t have sortition
  • The democratic potential of sortition

Wang Shaoguang and Yves Sintomer on sortition

A 2019 hour-long discussion on sortition at Shandong University with Wang Shaoguang and Yves Sintomer was recently published by its moderator, Daniel A. Bell.

This is a rather wide ranging discussion, and its lack of focus is somewhat of a flaw, in my opinion. Ideas on various matters are expressed. Many of those are well-hashed ideas, and the discussants are content to simply repeat them rather than examine them critically.

One idea that I think is relatively novel is briefly offered by Sintomer toward the end when Bell asks for proposals for applying sortition:

I would give the power to citizen juries randomly selected to judge politicians, when they are accused of misbehavior. Because I don’t trust other politicians to do this, as in Brazil or in the USA, where the impeachment is voted by the Congress. I think it’s a bad setting. And I don’t trust judges for judging politicians. Because judges are a very specific, professional body, and very often, a highly conservative body. I trust more randomly selected citizens to judge politicians when they are accused of misbehavior.

2020 review – statistics

Below are some statistics about the 11th year of Equality-by-Lot. Comparable numbers for last year can be found here.

2020 Page views Posts Comments
Jan 3,223 7 28
Feb 3,008 6 21
Mar 3,562 8 41
Apr 4,368 10 106
May 4,507 7 156
June 3,481 13 67
July 3,828 11 100
Aug 3,898 12 123
Sept 4,773 21 201
Oct 4,733 16 106
Nov 4,005 15 165
Dec (to 26th) 1,989 10 54
Total 45,375 135 1,168

Note that page views do not include visits by logged-in contributors – the wordpress system does not count those visits.

Posts were made by 15 authors during 2020. (There were, of course, many other authors quoted and linked to.)

There are currently 449 email and WordPress followers of this blog. In addition there are 483 Twitter followers (@Klerotarian) and 67 Facebook followers.

Searching for “distribution by lot” (with quotes) using Google returns Equality-by-Lot as the 2nd result (out of “about 307,000 results”). Searching for “sortition” does not show Equality-by-Lot until the 6th results page (out of “about 253,000 results”) – a dramatic demotion compared to previous years.

Happy holidays and a happy new year to Equality-by-Lot readers, commenters and posters. Keep up the good fight for democracy!

Galland and Schnapper: Citizen conventions and representative democracy, Part 2/2

The second part of an article in Telos by Olivier Galland, sociologist at the CNRS, and Dominique Schnapper, researcher at the EHESS and an honorary member of the Constitutional Council. The first part is here.

2. The choice of those of those responsible for the organization of the discussions, for informing the people convened by selecting the “experts”, for helping them to form an opinion, for writing and disseminating the conclusions must meet specific conditions as well. Who will select the people in those roles and what will be their legitimacy for making choices which may guide the conclusions of the deliberations? On this issue, it is important to distinguish clearly, when organizing the deliberations, between testimonies of scientific experts and those of other actors – activists, representatives of the state, trade unionists and business people. A distinction must be made consistently and meticulously between objective data – even if it is controversial – and opinions or beliefs which are a matter of ideological or political convictions or personal or group interests. Such a distinction is necessary so that the members of the conventions would be able to form judgement which is as informed as possible, especially in an era where mistrust of science has increased dangerously.

The members of this type of conventions can make political choices, but when they do so, they must be fully aware of the reasons for their choices and of their full implications. It is also necessary to shield them from pressure and influence that they may be subject to by activists and lobbies outside the convention. The experience of the CCC seems to show that risk is very real. A trial jury must be protected from outside influences in order to make its judgement impartial, but how can “a citizen convention” be protected against pressures originating from activists and interest groups?

3. However, the most decisive is the definition of these “conventions”, which are unmentioned by the constitutional texts and the democratic tradition: except for their makeup and their function, what is their purview, what is their legitimacy?
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