This proposal comes from a reflection: if in the last elections any abstention or no valid vote had been attributed to the "Party of Nothingness", this would have been the first party in Italian Parliament. What does it mean? That the mistrust of citizens towards politics, institutions and democracy is now endemic and is growing inexorably. The gap between voters and elected is likely to become more and more profound. However, this does not concern politics, for the simple fact that abstention and non-voting don’t have consequences on the electoral outcome. Are we therefore sure that elections in which an ever-lower proportion of those who are entitled to vote effectively goes to vote, are more democratic than sortition? What if we give a weight to those non-votes? When they reach such a high threshold, it is clear that in large part they are due to a choice of protest, disaffection.
And here's the idea: sortition. More precisely, a mixed system that merges the practice of election to that of drawing lots to select the members of a single legislative Assembly. A Municipalities’ Councils or the national Parliament too.
This proposal was made by some scientific studies conducted by five professors of the University of Catania, two of whom are ODERAL’s supporters: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, Cesare Garofalo, Salvatore Spagano e Maurizio Caserta.
Their studies and mathematical models demonstrate:
That the overall efficiency of an Assembly increases if within it there are some randomly selected members, independent from political parties
That there is a "golden number" of randomly selected members that optimizes Assembly's efficiency and that this number can be established after the numbers of Assembly's majority and minority have been established through elections
That the Assembly's efficiency is however always growing when the randomly selected members are between 20% and 55% of total members. For this reason, the number of independent members can be obtained from the datum of electoral abstention: to a percentage of abstention will correspond a percentage of Council seats destined to randomly selected citizens
That these citizens must have a short mandate, better if relegated to just one issue, in order to avoid the risk to be attracted from parties or to create a sort of “sortition party” which would annullate all benefits coming from the independence of randomly selected citizens.
The mathematical expressions adopted for converting abstention into seats are the following:
S = seats, V = voters on entitled citizens, E = elected, SO = selected through sortition
S x V = E
S - E = SO
To make things simpler, let's take an example: let's get a Municipality’s Council with 30 seats. If only three-quarters of those entitled to vote go to the polls, the elected members would be 30 × ¾ = 22. The other seats (30 – 22 = 8) could be extracted from a very large sample of volunteers, representing the complexity of society: for example, 3 men and 5 women.
Who would be the randomly selectable citizens to become Council's independent members?
There are two main options:
1. The first is to have all citizens as potential Council's independent members, making no distinction between who voted and who didn’t
2. The second is to have as potential Council’s independent members only the citizens that decided to join a “sortition list” instead of vote at the elections
To learn about the studies conducted by professors, you can download:
Here their first English-language academic article, titled “Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators Can Improve Parliament Efficiency”, 2011
Here their most recent English-language academic, named “The fallacy of representative democracy and the random selection of legislators”, 2017
Here their last article “Why lot-How sortition came to help representative democracy”, of 2018