Should Sortition Be Introduced in Parliament? A first empirical analysis of what citizens and parliamentarians think

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Over the last decades, sortition (or random selection) has emerged at the margin of representative democracies. In the wake of the deliberative democracy turn, sortition is used for composing advisory citizens’ panels that make recommendations regarding various policy issues. Today, some political actors and theorists go one step further by advocating the creation of sortition assemblies. They aim to bring random selection at the heart of representative system by conferring a decision-making power to randomly selected citizens. The purpose of this paper is to empirically assess the views of citizens and parliamentarians towards such a proposal with data collected in Belgium. While in most Western democracies the idea of a sortition assembly is typically known by a limited number of activists, the question is increasingly debated in the Belgian pubic sphere. Several political leaders have indeed publicly defended the transformation of the second chamber into a sortition chamber. Drawing on two original surveys (one with a representative sample of the population and another with current parliamentarians), this paper seeks to capture how these two groups react to the idea of a sortition chamber. Our findings indicate that, while a majority in both groups rejects the idea, a significant minority of citizens and, to a lesser extent, of parliamentarians do support it. We investigate the profile of those who support and oppose the proposal as well as the reasons they provide to justify their position. In so doing, this paper reflects on the plausibility of introducing sortition in a contemporary polity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018
Event7th Conference of the Belgium's state of the federation - KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
Duration: 21 Dec 201821 Dec 2018

Symposium

Symposium7th Conference of the Belgium's state of the federation
Country/TerritoryBelgium
CityLeuven
Period21/12/1821/12/18

Keywords

  • Belgium
  • CESPOL
  • CMAP/POL
  • Deliberative democracy
  • Sortition

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