Lecture by Etienne Choard on Sortition

Etienne Choard came to public prominence in France during their referendum on the Constitution for Europe (he opposed its adoption).

In this video, he explains his support for Sortition. The lecture is largely apolitical, but he does veer into the realm of conspiracy theory near the end. It is still a very good exposition of the subject.

Checks and Balances

Sortition was first practiced in the ancient city of Athens in and around 500 BC. Like us, ancient Athenians had lots of concerns about the random nature of Sortition, so they devised a system of checks and balances to ensure that the people chosen exercised their duty responsibly. The principles that guided them are just as applicable now.

We will refer to persons chosen in the lottery as drawees.

We can consider these checks and balances before the appointment of the drawee, during the appointment of the drawee, and after the appointment of the drawee.

Before

All candidates have to volunteer for service. Participants are not simply drawn from the wider public.

Candidates have to make a contribution to society to demonstrate their commitment. This can be a payment to a registered charity or participation in community service. Registered political parties would also be able to nominate candidates.

Candidates have to be able to demonstrate their citizenship with official documentation.

A person who has been convicted of tax evasion, corruption or an indictable criminal offence in the previous 10 years would be not be eligible for candidature.

During

Drawees who did not attend the Dail with sufficient regularity would be required to surrender their place in the Dail to the next candidate drawn from the register of candidates.

Drawees would be paid a salary, but would not be able to earn income in excess of 120% of that salary during their appointment. Drawees who are unable to meet this requirement would be required to invest their excess income in a State bond. Any drawee who was found to have breached this rule would be required to surrender their place to the next candidate drawn from the register of candidates. In each year, a lottery would be held to select 20% of drawees for audit of their income.

A drawee who has been convicted of tax evasion, corruption or an indictable criminal offence during their term would be required to surrender their place to the next candidate drawn from the register of candidates.

A drawee would be forced to surrender their place in the Dail if a super majority of both the Dail and the Seanad passed a motion to remove that drawee, subject to the power of veto on the part of the President.

After

Drawees who complete a term in the Dail would be awarded a title (eg “Teachta Dala”) after their term was over. Their name would be added to a register of drawees, and be inscribed on a national monument. Any subsequent Dail would have the power, by super majority, to remove a drawee from the register and the inscription on the national monument.