Demarchy

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Definition

"Demarchy is an alternative to electoral democracy based on a network of numerous decision-making groups. Each group deals with a specific function, such as transport, land use or health services in a local area. The membership of each body is chosen randomly from all who volunteer to be on it." (http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/demarchy.html)

Short pamphlet at http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/89demarchy.html


From the Wikipedia:

"Demarchy (or lottocracy) is a form of government in which the state is governed by randomly selected decision makers who have been selected by sortition (lot) from a broadly inclusive pool of eligible citizens. These groups, sometimes termed "policy juries", "citizens' juries", or "consensus conferences", deliberately make decisions about public policies in much the same way that juries decide criminal cases.

Demarchy, in theory, could overcome some of the functional problems of conventional representative democracy, which is widely subject to manipulation by special interests and a division between professional policymakers (politicians and lobbyists) vs. a largely passive, uninvolved and often uninformed electorate. According to Australian philosopher John Burnheim, random selection of policymakers would make it easier for everyday citizens to meaningfully participate, and harder for special interests to corrupt the process.

More generally, random selection of decision makers from a larger group is known as sortition (from the Latin base for lottery). The Athenian democracy made much use of sortition, with nearly all government offices filled by lottery (of full citizens) rather than by election. Candidates were almost always male, Greek, educated citizens holding a minimum of wealth and status.

In the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, a group of citizens was randomly selected to create a Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform to investigate and recommend changes to the provinces' electoral systems. The Old Order Amish use a combination of election and sortition to select church leaders; men receiving two or three nominations to fill a vacancy (the number varies by district) are then asked to select a psalm book containing a slip of paper, one of those slips being marked to indicate who will take on the burden of the position." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demarchy)



More Information

  1. Brian Martin. Democracy without elections. Social Anarchism, No. 21, 1995-1996. [1]: A lengthy article on problems with representative democracy, standard alternatives and their limitations, and demarchy.
  2. Brian Martin. Demarchy: a democratic alternative to electoral politics. Kick It Over, No. 30, Fall 1992, pp. 11-13. [2]: A short treatment of demarchy.
  3. The case for implementing demarchy in Wales, http://www.newidmeanschange.org/?page_id=18
  4. See also the case for Sortition, made by the Klerotarians and CLR James in Any Cook Can Govern