Against Elections: The Case for Democracy by David Van Reybrouck. Short book calling for the return of sortition, where citizens are appointed to roles by lot as in jury service, as an alterative to elections. Sortition was big part of the Athenian democracy and also some of the republics of the Renaissance. Elections were seen as likely to produce an elite, and sortition was seen as essential to a true democracy.
Despite the title, Reybrouck generally advocates mixed systems with some elected bodies and some bodies coming from sortition: in particular kinds of citizens juries which can put policy ideas on the table. He cites some evidence of how this kind of body has worked usefully in recent years when tried.
Overall, interesting book, worth a read. Makes a convincing case that some kind of sortition could help our democracies
What I'm Reading 2
A Passage to Europe by Luuk Van Middelaar. History of the European Union written by a Euro-insider who was formerly an assistant to Herman Van Rompuy, from its origin in the Fifties to a few years ago,
Manages the unlikely trick of keeping the story fairly interesting. The author is generally a Euro-enthusiast, though he's not oblivious to some of the problems. He regards the history of the EU as being generally driven as a response to events, assisted by the tendency of actors in the system to use events to drive further integration.
He reveals some things that I wasn't aware of. In particular he regards the European Court as having seized on the opportunity of certain rulings to make a kind of "coup": it was originally seen as a body that only the member states would interact with, but used appeals to make itself a body where individuals in the EU could interact with.
He's also quite good on De Gaulle's attempts to exert power over the EU. I wasn't aware that for a period of many months he withdrew France from its seats in an effort to gain power by boycott. Van Middelaar regards de Gaulle as being motivated by his own power politics: rejecting UK membership when he believed a Franco-German alliance gave France influence, accepting UK membership after a rift with Germany left him in need of allies.
Overall, an informative history, worth a read.
Random. An island without wheels.
|< First group ride of the season was yesterday | I am happy to report... >|