[EM] Sociological issues of elections

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at t-online.de
Mon Sep 2 15:23:04 PDT 2013

On 09/02/2013 09:23 PM, Vidar Wahlberg wrote:

>> I once considered a hybrid system that *would* use elections, but in
>> a quite different way: first you'd select a significant number of
>> people at random, and then these would elect from among their
>> number. It does away with continuity both for ill (problem with
>> consistency of plans) and good (no monolithic party machines).
> This reminds me a bit about how comments on slashdot.org are rated by
> the readers. Perhaps you're familiar with this system?
> They claim it works fairly well for their needs, but will it work for
> electing a government? Even if you select a subset of the population,
> those are susceptible to fearmongering, glorifying and generally create
> a distorted image of the various candidates/parties to influence the
> voter in a certain direction.

That's not quite what I meant. By "among their number" I meant that the 
people who were selected would elect a subset of their own. So you might 
pick, say, 500 for the initial level. Among these, the different people 
give reasons for why they should govern. Then the 500 elect 150 of their 
own to become the actual legislature.

I thought of that kind of system as a way of countering the most common 
objection against a randomly picked assembly: that the average person 
would rule, and he would be average in both the good and bad sense. So 
the electoral stage is supposed to remove the lower quality members of 
the random group. Since the initial group is picked at random, there's 
no direct way for a party to gain access to government: the chance that 
any given randomly picked person would be a party member is extremely low.

One could argue that the flipside of this kind of system is that it 
destroys the kind of continuity of planning that the parties provide. 
But in a sense, that continuity is also always subject to being changed 
by the changes in support.

I guess what you thought I was thinking of was a method where you pick a 
smaller sample that then run the traditional election (that is, choose 
parties etc). The benefit of that system would be that each member of 
the small sample would have a greater incentive to investigate the 
issues, but it's not the system I was thinking of, and to the extent 
that voting is also a participatory thing, the general population would 
not like having their choice taken away from them.

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