Sortition in German press, Citizens’ Council website

Just a couple of notable discussions of sortition in the German press from the last couple of months.

The first from the Frankfurter Allgemeine in August is entitled: “Can sortition save democracy?” After mentioning that in Germany, like in many other countries, satisfaction with actually existing democracy has been hovering around 50%, it delves somewhat IN DEPTH into the differences between elections and lot. Not surprisingly, it quotes Aristotle that “sortition” is democratic, while elections are aristocratic. And it discusses historical examples beyond Athens, in particular, the familiar mentions of Florence and Venice. It then discusses both the Irish Citizens Assembly, and the Buergerrat Demokratie citizens’ assembly in Germany–mentioning that the President of the Bundestag supports it and will take its recommendations seriously. It then discusses the Buergerrat Demokratie at length.

The second from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in September, entitled “An experiment to save democracy,” reports on the new Citizens Council, which amounts to a second chamber of Parliament, in East Belgium. It calls it a “world premier,” and allows readers to vote yes/no to the idea of whether citizens should be able to make laws. So far, the yeahs have it. It emphasizes that David van Reybrouk’s book, as well as the G1000, played important roles in bringing the idea of “aleatory democracy” to that part of Belgium.

Speaking of which, this is the website for the new Citizens’ Council in East Belgium.

Sortition has nearly gone mainstream, and the so-called “Neo-Athenian Revolution” is alive and well.

Papirblat: Getting selected to the Belgian Senate via the lottery

Shlomo Papirblat reports from Brussels in the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz”:

A proposal to select the members of the Belgian Senate at random gains surprising support from politicians in Brussels. The chairperson of the socialist party: “Traditional politics is ailing and new ways have to be considered.”

Senior politicians in Brussels are supporting a legislative reform that could revolutionize Belgian democracy: according to the plan members of the Senate – the upper chamber of the nation’s parliament – would be selected in a lottery that would be held once every four years among the citizenry. The chairperson of the socialist party in the Belgian parliament, Laurette Onkelinx, a former vice prime minister, is saying that “traditional politics is ailing and new ways have to be considered.”

In an interview prominently published Wednesday in the highly regarded “Le Soir” Onkelinx explains that “today’s politicians are generally required to get involved in burning social issues but they are behind – they can’t keep up. On the other hand, more and more grassroot and activist-developed social initiatives are involved in generating solutions.” When addressing the question of who can democracy of “professionals” can be combined with present-day requirements, she said that she thinks that “sortition needs to be adopted to bring normal people to the legislature, at least half the members of the house.”

Parliament members standing outside the federal parliament building in Brussels, 2012

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The Youth Parliament of Belgium proposes sortition-based government

Commenter ee calls attention to the following.

The Youth Parliament of Belgium is a yearly conference of French-speaking youth in Belgium which is organized by the Parliament of the French Community in Belgium. Every year the Youth Parliament discusses four decrees that are proposed by four “ministers”. The Parliament decides whether to adopt or reject each of the decrees.

The 2013 Youth Parliament adopted a decree titled “Décret visant à réformer l’exercice du pouvoir des citoyens, de leurs assemblées et de leur gouvernement” (“Decree to reform the exercise of power of citizens, their assemblies and their government”), which, if I understand correctly, was authored by Pierre-Yves Ryckaert, a political activist.

The decree opens so (automated translation with my touch-ups):

After more than two hundred years of the representative parliamentary system, one thing is clear: this system which is supposed to derive its legitimacy from the consent of voters appears to create a structural and insidious monopolization of power by a class of professional politicians. The elite politician created by elections is bound to be limited to short-term policies, in a context where they are no longer sufficient to cope with the challenges of tomorrow. This led some citizens and elected officials to question the foundations of this system.
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