Skip to content

Of sortion, participatory democracy and engaging people in the political process

  • by JW

Herefordshire Citizens’ Climate Assembly


Some four years ago, there was a lot of talk about ‘refreshing’ our approaches to democracy:

What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people? | Brett Hennig – YouTube

Voting undermines the will of the people – it’s time to replace it with sortition | Australian politics | The Guardian

Including on the VGS Futures Forum pages:

Futures Forum: The government’s “civil society strategy” will not give people “a more direct role in decision making.” > Rather, we need a real dose of ‘deliberative’ or ‘participatory’ democracy.

Futures Forum: Brexit: and how the Irish referendum’s “deliberative democracy” countered fake facts

And including at local government level – and the need to do something about it:

Futures Forum: Citizens’ Juries could become the core of a revived local democracy

Futures Forum: The death of local democracy

Back in 2015, the then-district government had a little dalliance with such ideas, but they didn’t amount to much:

Futures Forum: Participatory Budgeting in East Devon: spending peanuts on ‘sport and play’

But there seems to be a recent resurgence of interest – and globally, with this from last week in Malaysia:

I’ve been thinking about how to make those victorious politicians accountable for their actions or inaction (those whom we rarely see after they’ve won). We ought to institutionalise a proper feedback channel like a citizens’ assembly to air our thoughts to lawmakers.
The deliberative democracy model that’s being practised in the Ostbelgien German-speaking region of eastern Belgium is worth adopting so that we won’t be fooled once every five years.
Also known as sortition, it’s an ancient practice of randomly selecting citizens to participate in legislative citizen assemblies to voice out their thoughts and suggestions.
Under this form of deliberative democracy, deliberation will be central to decision-making as it adopts elements of consensus decision-making and majority rule for problem-solving. These assemblies can provide the necessary checks and balances on politicians.

Establish citizens’ assemblies to hold politicians accountable

And from earlier this year in the United States:

Can a citizen lottery govern better than elected officials? – Vox

Meanwhile, experiments are happening in local government here in the UK:

Citizens’ Assembly – Herefordshire Council

Herefordshire Council’s Climate Assembly within £70,000 budget | Hereford Times

More criticism around the Herefordshire climate citizens assembly | Equality by lot

Herefordshire Citizens’ Climate Assembly – 7 & 8 Sessions Saturday 29 January 2022 – YouTube