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.
How can it be done? There are two hypotheses.
The first is promoted by some scientific studies conducted by five professors of the University of Catania, which demonstrate two main things:
- That the overall efficiency of a Parliament 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 Parliament's efficiency and that this number can only be established after the numbers of Parliament’s majority and minority have been established through elections.
- Here their first English-language academic article, titled “Accidental Politicians: How Randomly Selected Legislators Can Improve Parliament Efficiency”, 2011
- Here their Italian book entitled “Democrazia a Sorte. Ovvero la sorte della democrazia”, published in 2012
- Here their most recent English-language academic, named “The fallacy of representative democracy and the random selection of legislators”, 2017
The slides at the bottom present the main concepts of their studies in a simple and schematic way.
The second hypothesis is instead to divide the Parliament’s seats between elected and citizens selected by lot on the basis of how many citizens entitled to vote went to the polls. The mathematical expressions adopted are the followers:
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 the Italian Senate, which has 315 seats. In the last elections only about three-quarters of those entitled to vote went to the polls. The elected senators would therefore be 315 × ¾ = 236. The other seats (315-236 = 79) could be extracted from a very large sample of volunteers, representing the complexity of society: for example, 38 men and 41 women.
Here an article by professor Renzo
Rosso on the blog of Il Fatto Quotidiano explaining this proposal
As we can see, these two proposals have as a central common point the fact that the number of citizens selected by lot within the Assembly can only be decided after the election. What differentiates them, on the contrary, is how this number should be obtained; whether by a corresponding golden number or a mathematical operation.