New Law Requiring Deliberative Poll Process for Constitutional Amendment in Mongolia

Here is an email from today (May 3, 2017) from James Fishkin to the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) listserv:

Dear all: I am just off the plane from Mongolia where a national Deliberative Poll considered several proposed elements of a constitutional amendment, as now required by law. National random sample of 669 deliberated a whole weekend and produced results, now with the parliament. Here is a pre-event press report and video:

This development raises interesting possibilities for how citizen deliberation can be institutionalized. Hope you will find it of interest. More information will appear on the web site when available.  Best regards to the NCDD list. Jim Fishkin

Of particular interest, the above-linked press release announces:

The Mongolian government recently passed a law requiring that an immersive research method that analyzes public opinion developed by Stanford’s James Fishkin be conducted before its constitution could be amended. According to Fishkin, who devised the process called deliberative polling almost 30 years ago, it marks the first time that a country has incorporated the process into its law. … The measure was supported and passed into law on Feb. 9.


See also:

The Blind Break, the Invisible Hand and the Wisdom of Crowds: The political potential of sortition

[Update: Commenting was accidentally initially off, enabled now.]

Draft paper:

Abstract: Following (Waldron, 2013), this paper draws a distinction between ‘social’ and ‘political’ variants of sortition, focusing principally on the latter. The two leading theories – the ‘blind break’ and the ‘invisible hand’ of descriptive representation – rely on different principles, focus on different levels of analysis (individual and collective) and have little in common. The attempt by epistemic democrats to bridge the gap via small-group face-to-face deliberation fails on account of the lack of concern for statistical representativity and the lack of distinction between the different roles of advocacy and judgment (proposing and disposing) in political decision-making, sortition only being relevant to the latter function.

This is derived from the paper that I presented at the recent IPSA Montreal conference, where I was encouraged to write it up and submit to a journal. I’d really appreciate comments and criticisms via this forum. Here’s the full draft (click the download button on the right).

Discussing sortition in Plymouth

Keith Rossiter writes in the Plymouth Herald:

A COMMON cry from some Herald readers is that councillors are corrupt/incompetent/self-serving (delete as you wish), and above all that they should not be paid for their services.


Challenged to step up to the plate themselves, they may say – with some justification – that “it’s all a stitch-up”. You can only get elected with the help of a party machine, and parties only select their pals.

We got the idea of democracy from the Ancient Greeks, and perhaps it’s time to go back to Ancient Greece and borrow the other half of their brilliant concept.

The Athenians used a machine to pick people to hold public office or to do jury duty. The device, called a kleroterion, ensured randomness in allocating important civic positions in much the same way that a lottery ensures randomness in picking the winning ticket. (Of course, we’ve all met conspiracy theorists who claim that’s also a stitch-up.)
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