[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jul 6 02:35:15 PDT 2012

On 6.7.2012, at 0.40, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:

> - For instance, a system based entirely on random selection would probably not have very powerful parties, as the parties would have no way of getting "their" candidates into the assembly. Of course, such a system would not have the aristocratic aspect either. Hybrid systems could still make parties less relevant: I've mentioned a "sortition followed by election within the group" idea before, where a significant sample is picked from the population and they elect representatives from their number. Again, parties could not be sure any of "their" candidates would be selected at random in the first round. While that method tries to keep some of the selection for best, it disrupts the continuity that parties need and the effect of "marketing" ahead of time.

In this mail steram parties have been referred to at leas as 1) groups that dictate the policy (instead of allowing voters to do so), 2) groups that keep the insiders in power for ever, 3) groups that accept only their favourites as candidates, 4) goups that represent the interests of their sponsors, 5) groups that represent the (economical, ideological, psychological) interests of the party insiders. On the more positive side parties have been referred to as 1) groupings that allow similar minded people to influence mor effectively together, 2) simplifying ideological concepts that make it easier for the voters to point out the best difrection that the society should take.

When you refer to making "parties less relevant" and the "sortition followed by election within the group" idea, I think your proposal focuses especially on making the role of carreer politicians smaller, and bringing the representatives closer to the voters. That is a quite effective approach to eliminating lifelong political careers (parties as ideological concepts might still stay). Other techniques could be e.g. to limit the number of consecutive terms, or to elect representatives cyclically from different municipalities.

This approach would make our represenatives less professional. If the representatives become too much "amateurs", we may see a rise of some other level of professional politicians, maybe working in the background, helping or steering the formal representatives. One must thus seek a good balance between professional and amateur politicians.

If we lean on the professional side, the representatives could be pretty much as today, but the politicians would just have to be prepared to do give up and do something else for a while, when they are not elected. If we lean on the amateur side, we could complement this approach by allowing the representatives to stay at home and make decisions from there. Modern communications technology would allow e.g. having 10 or 100 times as many representatives as today, and allowing those representatives to keep their old jobs and vote from their home. That would probably leave space for ideological party offices working to prepare the topics for decision. The final power would still lie in the hands of the representatives (it may be a good thing that they are at home and not under the influence of lobbyists at the party office) but certainly some of the power would lie also elsewhere. The overall balance might be quite decent also in the amateur oriented model though.

(I note that the aristrocratic aspect applies probably to many systems, including also fascism and communism, where the idea is that a selected group of people will drive the progress forward. Further I note that large organizations have higher tendency of becoming aristocratic and leading to the power of elite, civil servants, lobbyists and professional politicians, since the higher stakes invite harder players, and the distance from voters gets longer.)


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