This presentation takes a critical approach to the possibility of shaping parliaments through a lottery system instead of traditional elections to solve the so-called crisis of representation. My proposal emphasizes the adverse effects of sortition in the democratic legislative model. However, I also discuss the possibility of including sortition within stages of the democratic process, such as the determination of the political agenda, or the horizontal and vertical accountability of parliamentarians. Incorporating this mechanism into the practices of congresses could improve their functioning and increase their democratic quality.
Recently, we have seen renewed interest in sortition, as a way to improve the quality of representative democracy. Several pros and cons of this mechanism of selection have been analyzed. Sortition could help resolve the problem of the lack of representativeness; however, sortition presents problems that limit its potential. The main drawback would be the impossibility of setting accountability mechanisms to make this kind of representatives responsible for their performance. For these reasons, while we must rule out the complete disappearance of the elected representatives, the inclusion of randomly selected representatives could be an important element to consider in the institutional design of a representative democracy. More specifically, a percentage of parliamentarians could be elected by sortition, or a chamber of parliament for randomly selected representatives could be established.
There is a solid theoretical literature that discusses both the democratic credentials and the shortcomings of the use of random selection as a mechanism to shape political bodies. Many institutional innovations, from deliberative polls to citizens' assemblies, are currently being implemented around the world. However, both the literature and the new institutional designs usually refer to the legislative and executive branches of government. Academics rarely discuss novel uses of the lottery in the judicial branch, particularly in constitutional aspects. In this paper, I consider whether it would be appropriate to use the draw in specific constitutional domains. I discuss, among other alternatives, the use of a lottery to select judges and cases, the use of deliberative polls by courts, the articulation of mini publics with judicial instances, and the combination of elected and randomly selected political bodies to amend constitutions.
Due to the special conditions of modern states, with their enormous geographical and demographic dimensions, their institutional complexity and the heterogeneity of citizen interests, it is impossible to materialize an ideal democracy in which “everyone can govern”. Therefore, we must opt to achieve another ideal of democracy: to design a system in which “anyone can govern”. Hence, a return to the classical origins of the Greek democratic experience is justified. This task begins with the introduction of randomness in the selection processes of legislators and governors. This measure would have immediate positive effects, such as correcting the perverse practices of the electoral system and guaranteeing the authentic representation of the interests of political minorities and other traditionally excluded sectors.