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Against Elections: The Case for Democracy de…
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Against Elections: The Case for Democracy (original: 2013; edição: 2016)

de David Van Reybrouck (Autor)

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"Without drastic adjustment, this system cannot last much longer," writes Van Reybrouck. "If you look at the decline in voter turnout and party membership, and at the way politicians are held in contempt, if you look at how difficult it is to form governments, how little they can do and how harshly they are punished for it, if you look at how quickly populism, technocracy and anti-parliamentarianism are rising, if you look at how more and more citizens are longing for participation and how quickly that desire can tip over into frustration, then you realize we are up to our necks." Not so very long ago, the great battles of democracy were fought for the right to vote. Now, Van Reybrouck writes, "it's all about the right to speak, but in essence it's the same battle, the battle for political emancipation and for democratic participation. We must decolonize democracy. We must democratize democracy." As history, Van Reybrouck makes the compelling argument that modern democracy was designed as much to preserve the rights of the powerful and keep the masses in line, as to give the populace a voice. As change-agent, Against Elections makes the argument that there are forms of government, what he terms sortitive or deliberative democracy, that are beginning to be practiced around the world, and can be the remedy we seek. In Iceland, for example, deliberative democracy was used to write the new constitution. A group of people were chosen by lot, educated in the subject at hand, and then were able to decide what was best, arguably, far better than politicians would have. A fascinating, and workable idea has led to a timely book to remind us that our system of government is a flexible instrument, one that the people have the power to change"--… (mais)
Membro:wjones986
Título:Against Elections: The Case for Democracy
Autores:David Van Reybrouck (Autor)
Informação:Random House UK (2017), 208 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Against Elections de David Van Reybrouck (2013)

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In deze woelige tijden en vooral omdat je op de duur je begint af te vragen waarom er verkiezingen zijn, als toch steeds dezelfde mensen minister worden of in het parlement terechtkomen... is dit kleinood best een verfrissend product, ook al rakelt Van Reybrouck een oud gegeven op: loting.

In dit vlot geschreven en helder (o.a. met schema's) uitgelegde essay pleit Van Reybrouck voor de (her)introductie van loting in de politiek. Let wel: loting waarbij telkens andere mensen gekozen worden, zodat je niet steeds dezelfde groep hebt of dezelfde soort (bijv. hoogopgeleide, van rijke komaf) hebt. In een verleden, vóór Christus, ten tijde van het oude Griekenland werd de politiek in Athene bepaald door loting. Geen verkiezingen, maar loting, loting van geschikt geachte mensen. Ook de wetten en beslissingen daartoe werden dan door verschillende groepen behandeld alvorens voorstellen defnitief wet werden.

Later werd een dergelijk systeem ook elders in de wereld toegepast (in Italië, Spanje, enz...). Hoewel het steeds om mannen ging, kwamen de gelote kandidaten wel uit verschillende lagen van de bevolking.

Het is pas veel later dat vooral de gegoede burgerij vond dat een serieus gegeven als politiek best gevoerd kon worden door mensen die competent en van adellijke komaf waren. Anders gezegd, de aristocratie. Vooral na de Franse en Amerikaanse revoluties was loting iets van het verleden en werd er een kiessysteem geïnstalleerd. M.a.w., je kon dan kiezen voor je favoriete vertegenwoordiger of voor degene(n) die je als vertegenwoordiger(s) wou.

Dat heeft uiteraard vooral z'n voordelen voor de degenen die gekozen worden en het systeem in stand kunnen houden door hun familie erbij te betrekken (vandaar de families De Croo, De Gucht, De Clerck, Schiltz, Van Rompuy, Tobback, en ga zo maar door; elke partij heeft wel zo iemand rondlopen). Dit beperkt uiteraard de betrokkenheid van de burger, gezien die op die manier niet echt weet WAARVOOR hij/zij gaat stemmen. Met alle gevolgen van dien.

Van Reybrouck maakt een reis doorheen de tijd, van een periode zonder verkiezingen, zonder politieke partijen, e.d., naar de periode waarin we nu leven: politieke partijen, verenigingen, lobby's, organisaties (vakbonden e.d.), vrouwenstemrecht, ... Hij bespreekt ook kort hoe, bij het ontstaan van België, de Belgische grondwet (hoewel niet 100% origineel, wegens het overnemen van bepaalde stukken uit andere nationale grondwetten) eigenlijk als basis gediend heeft (volledig of deels) voor grondwetten elders in Europa, omwille van z'n specificiteit en het feit dat België een speciaal, uniek geval is inzake democratie.

Loting was vroeger vooral van toepassing op kleine steden en gelijkaardig, helemaal niet bedoeld voor grote gebieden zoals een Frankrijk, Duitsland, enz., omdat je op die manier een te groot onderscheid krijgt van noden en wensen, waardoor de wetgeving te algemeen wordt.

Maar goed, verkiezingen zijn een manier om democratisch bestuur te krijgen, maar eigenlijk ben je als burger niet vrij op die manier. Je mag bolletjes kleuren, maar enkel binnen eenzelfde partij. Je weet eigenlijk niet WAARVOOR je stemt (welke aanpassingen i.v.m. werkzekerheid, infrastructuur, sociale zekerheid, milieu, andere thema's, ...), enkel voor WIE je stemt. En dan nog. Dan beslissen de partijen intern wie er naar het parlement mag en wie er minister mag worden. Waarom stem je dan nog?

Ik had op Mathias' uitstekende review gereageerd met: waarom niet voor thema's stemmen? Stel dat partij A inzake jobs een beter voorstel heeft dan de andere partijen, dan kleur je dat vakje. Stel dat partij B inzake milieu een beter voorstel heeft dan de andere partijen, dan kleur je dat vakje. Dus, niet meer gebonden zijn aan partijen, want niemand is 100% voor CD&V of SP.a of Groen of N-VA of wat-dan-ook. Er zijn altijd overlappende voorkeuren.

Maar goed, loting lijkt me (ook) geen slecht voorstel om zo eens andere visies aan bod te laten komen inzake het voorstellen van wetten, vooral als bepaalde thema's daardoor beter behandeld kunnen worden, zoals Van Reybrouck schrijft.

Hij pleit dus voor loting, maar met behoud van de huidige politieke afgevaardigden. De politiek en de burgers zouden dus de koppen moeten samensteken om zo tot een beter beleid te komen. Uiteraard zouden die burgers wel in de beste omstandigheden moeten kunnen werken - om dossierkennis op te doen en te overleggen met elkaar en politieke verkozenen en experten - en verloond worden. In andere landen (IJsland, Ierland, ...) zijn al dergelijke projecten de revue gepasseerd en met succes. Waarom het hier, en in andere landen, dan nog niet gedaan wordt/werd, wijt Van Reybrouck vooral aan het feit dat de huidige machthebbers hun macht niet graag afgeven. Wie aan de vetpot zit, schept. En da's overal het geval, ongeacht het land, ongeacht de partij. Daarom dat het systeem moet aangepakt worden. Loting kan (!) helpen de samenleving een betere plaats te maken.

Eigenlijk moest ik dit al eerder gelezen hebben, maar gezien er een geüpdatete versie van uitgekomen is - deze hier - en rekening houdend met de recente gebeurtenissen op nationaal en internationaal vlak (Trump, extreemrechts dat meer en meer opkomt, de N-VA aan de macht in België, ...), was de tijd meer dan rijp om dit essay te lezen.

'Tegen verkiezingen' is verplicht leesvoer voor iedereen die wat kritisch tegen de (huidige) politiek aankijkt. Het geeft een boeiend overzicht van waar we komen, waar we staan en hoe burgerlijke betrokkenheid best positieve gevolgen kan hebben, voor iedereen. Ook kan zo het wederzijdse (tussen de politiek en de burger) vertrouwen hersteld worden. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
Thought-provoking but not yet practical

I got this book after hearing MP Stella Creasy discuss citizen parliaments. Neither I nor the interviewer could understand what she was recommending and it sounded too strange. But this book made me reconsider as it explained the true problem is elective representative democracy. I had never thought that elections were the problem and that they were optional for democracy. This book reset my thoughts but I’m not yet sure what my actions are. Worth a read. ( )
  idiopathic | Dec 13, 2020 |
In tutto il mondo democratico le elezioni stanno diventando sempre più un momento di paura, più che una scelta verso il futuro. Che fare? Il belga David Van Reybrouck, che si è trovato per un anno e mezzo senza governo dopo un'elezione dove più blocchi fieramente contrapposti non volevano mettersi d'accordo, in questo libro propone una soluzione "antica"; eliminare almeno in parte le elezioni e tornare al sorteggio dei legislatori, come si faceva nell'antica Grecia e nei Comuni medievali italiani. Van Reybrouck, pur dilungandosi un po' troppo per i miei gusti, ha indubbiamente delle buone frecce al suo arco, come quando per esempio ricorda che anche i politici "di professione" sono affiancati da una serie di esperti perché non possono sapere tutto. Ha ragione anche nel dire che una rivoluzione di questo tipo sarebbe osteggiata dai media, come del resto mostra sia capitato nei tentativi effettuati in questi anni. Però mi pare che sia troppo ottimista nella fase precedente il sorteggio. Van Reybrouck prevede che esso venga fatto tra le persone che si propongano come interessate; per motivarle, bisogna ovviamente prevedere uno stipendio che permetta loro nei quattro-cinque anni del servizio di non perderci. Ma in questo modo, se lo stipendio è uguale per tutti, troveremo masse più interessate a "vincere la lotteria" che a legiferare; se è diverso troveremmo mugugni vari. Insomma secondo me bisogna pensarci ancora su prima di avere una proposta solida. Buona la traduzione di Matilde Pinamonti. ( )
  .mau. | Jun 17, 2018 |
The Self-Defeating Election Fetish

There are countless books on how we have lost our way, in relating to nature, to each other, in loneliness, common sense, common good, sharing and caring. Now comes David Van Reybrouck and his Against Elections, to show we have also gone incredibly far wrong in democracy. It seems we had it right 2500 years ago, and we have lost it with our elections fetish. Elections are actually anti-democratic, a concept that clashes with our innate assumption. But it’s true. This English translation comes five years after its European publication, where it has received numerous and deserved accolades.

We suffer from Election Fatigue Syndrome. Too many elections, with the same outcome every time: the winners will ignore the voters, starting immediately. As a result, participation rates have long been plunging, as has party membership, all through the 117 recognized democracies. So it’s not an isolated, unique issue. Elections are a fundamental flaw in what we incorrectly call democracy.

We often see arguments that democracy has been abstracted. That direct democracy is different from (and better than) representative democracy. That first past the post is better/worse than proportional. That political parties corrupt democracy. That party rigidities keep the best candidates from being anything but donors. That incumbents spend most of their time rigging the next elections with gerrymandering and voter ID scams. That there’s always good old ballot stuffing or having dead people vote, or even just making up the totals to suit. And that the media focus us on minuscule details to take our attention away from the real issues. Van Reybrouck says that’s all true, but just a symptom. There is a much deeper, fundamental level we have lost. Because we solved all those issues thousands of years ago, and benefited from the solution right up to 200 years ago, when the rot set in.

What works best is random selecting by lot (sortitation) for short, non-renewable terms. There can still be elections, as a sop to the rich and aristocratic, because a mix of the two works best of all. But basically, as the ancient Greeks knew, public service is a duty, not a career. If we held elections over issues instead of candidates, the entire dynamic would change. In earlier times, elections were a show of unity so that issues could be resolved. Today they polarize and divide, because they’re about ideologies and personalities instead. Here’s Aristotle: “One principal of liberty is for all to rule and to be ruled in turn.” In his Athens, 50-70% of men over 30 sat on the Council in their lifetimes. There were no Presidents or Senate Majority Leaders or leading candidates. Nearly everyone learned the ropes and understood why decisions came out the way they did.

In ancient Rome, Van Reybrouck found, people obtained office by writing their name on a small wooden ball, called a ballotta. They would actually go into the street and drag an 8-10 year old into the conference to draw the ballottas of the winners. Today, about the closest we have left is picking jurors in criminal trials. Montesquieu said in 1748: “Voting by lot is in the nature of democracy. Voting by choice is in the nature of aristocracy.” In other words, elections are anti-democratic. Real democracy involves nearly everyone. We have wandered way off course, pretending and insisting that what we have is democracy.

Van Reybrouk says this focus on elections has created verticality where equality was the norm. Electeds clearly sit above the rest, become wealthy and powerful celebrities – our aristocracy. Their deliberations are safe from the public, their decisions independent of the voters or the needs of the nation.

The solution is deliberative democracy. Groups of people, chosen by sortitation, listen to all the experts, discuss amongst themselves and come to a conclusion. All on live television, so it is totally transparent. And then everyone goes home. This could be done for all the issues currently trampled by Congress. Wherever it has been tried (even in Texas), the result is far greater general support for the outcome. Giving random citizens serious responsibility for a few days to a few months brings out more thoughtful and careful deliberations. A secret ballot after a short deliberation means no party prejudice or discipline, no favors, no lobbyists, no backscratching, and no tactical voting. This is a process we can’t even imagine today. Yet throughout history, it has been the most positive form of government ever, and a city or kingdom where life was more fulfilling and long, according King Ferdinand II of Spain – in 1492.

Against Elections ends with a full, illustrated model of how this democracy would function. It includes a Rules Committee that oversees the other committees, but which by law cannot appropriate new powers to itself. Memberships are three years, non-renewable. It is an extension of the Bouricius Model, and needs to be implemented gradually, one segment of the structure and one sector of the economy at a time, so no noses get put out of joint and distrust/disbelief are minimized. In an age where a shelf of books gloomily predicts what comes after democracy, Against Elections is a totally positive, optimistic, and proven system that will change our democracies into - actual democracies.

David Wineberg ( )
4 vote DavidWineberg | Dec 20, 2017 |
Reviewed in the February 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard:

http://socialiststandardmyspace.blogspot.com/2017/12/sorting-it-out-2017.html
  Impossibilist | Dec 6, 2017 |
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"Without drastic adjustment, this system cannot last much longer," writes Van Reybrouck. "If you look at the decline in voter turnout and party membership, and at the way politicians are held in contempt, if you look at how difficult it is to form governments, how little they can do and how harshly they are punished for it, if you look at how quickly populism, technocracy and anti-parliamentarianism are rising, if you look at how more and more citizens are longing for participation and how quickly that desire can tip over into frustration, then you realize we are up to our necks." Not so very long ago, the great battles of democracy were fought for the right to vote. Now, Van Reybrouck writes, "it's all about the right to speak, but in essence it's the same battle, the battle for political emancipation and for democratic participation. We must decolonize democracy. We must democratize democracy." As history, Van Reybrouck makes the compelling argument that modern democracy was designed as much to preserve the rights of the powerful and keep the masses in line, as to give the populace a voice. As change-agent, Against Elections makes the argument that there are forms of government, what he terms sortitive or deliberative democracy, that are beginning to be practiced around the world, and can be the remedy we seek. In Iceland, for example, deliberative democracy was used to write the new constitution. A group of people were chosen by lot, educated in the subject at hand, and then were able to decide what was best, arguably, far better than politicians would have. A fascinating, and workable idea has led to a timely book to remind us that our system of government is a flexible instrument, one that the people have the power to change"--

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