Does sortition improve our European democracy?
In times when many Europeans feel disenfranchised by the current political and voting system, alternative forms of active citizen engagement in democracy must be experimented with. We believe in the power of unconventional ideas to revive our passion for politics and societal transformation. That’s why we propose to experiment with a system in which decisions are not just taken for the people, but really by the people, chosen randomly by lot. We would like to invite you, members and non-members of European Alternatives, to be part of this experiment of a prototype for the future of democratic participation that goes beyond the nation state.
Our approach combines two promising ideas – random sample voting (RSV) and digital identities. Participating in democracy through sortition is a very old idea and we believe it has many benefits, especially when it comes to selecting members of a board or conducting surveys. However, in order to ensure legitimacy, we need to address sortition’s biggest challenge and guarantee proper representation, for which we must know the population on which our random sample is based. In order to do so, we combine RSV with secure digital identities.
Our future vision includes a European-wide voter register in which all Europeans are digitally registered with names, addresses and unique identifiers. So, if anyone in Europe, from the European parliament to a local government or NGO, wants to find out how people in a certain region feel about an issue, they can use this register and survey a small representative sample. That way, timely feedback would be accessible much more often and at a very reduced costs. Also, our approach might change the way we envision democracy all together.
This idea is far from being widespread or practical just yet, whis is another reason for us to work and experiment with it. This experiment or field test, as we call it, is the final part of the first phase of the “DECiDe”-research project. The aim of this first phase is to develop and test a technical prototype that combines RSV and digital identity. Therefore, the German ‘Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society’ teamed up with European Alternatives.