On Two Anti-Democratic Uses of Sortition

in Democratic Theory
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  • 1 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki peonidis@edlit.auth.gr
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Abstract

After centuries of oblivion, the idea of using civic lotteries to select citizens to participate in major decision-making bodies has started gaining popularity among certain democratic theorists. Undoubtedly, this is an idea worth exploring, given the constantly rising dissatisfaction with the operation of major representative institutions. One should not, however, infer from this fact that any proposed sortition-based institutional arrangement is compatible with basic democratic principles. This article critically examines two such proposals: (a) that we should establish fully powered legislative bodies consisting entirely of allotted citizens and (b) López-Guerra’s enfranchisement lottery, the gist of which is that voting rights should be granted only to a very small random sample of current electors, who will be subjected to a “competence-building process.” The article argues that both proposals run counter to the idea of rule by the people conceived as equally valuable and fully participating members of a self-governing political entity.

Contributor Notes

Filimon Peonidis is professor of moral and political philosophy at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His most recent book published in English is Democracy as Popular Sovereignty (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).

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