Month: October 2017

Welcome to episode four of season three of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. This episode is also the 43rd episode of the podcast and the first one since the first birthday of the podcast last week. To help celebrate the podcast’s birthday I’d appreciate it if you could share either your favourite episode of the podcast or the podcast generally with someone you think would find it interesting.
Today’s episode is about electoral reform with Dr Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit at UCL in London. Alan’s expertise lies mainly in the areas of electoral systems, referendums, and other modes of engaging the public in decision-making processes, such as citizens’ assemblies. His research is comparative: besides the UK, his recent projects have included all European democracies as well as New Zealand, Japan, and Canada. In addition to numerous journal articles, chapters and reports he is the author of two books about electoral reform: A Citizens’ Guide to Electoral Reform and The Politics of Electoral Reform: Changing the Rules of Democracy.
Thanks for joining me today. In the next episode I’ll be talking with Professor Pippa Norris about electoral integrity.
I am currently putting together interviews about electoral systems around the world and so far I’ve interviewed people about India, South and Southern Africa, Australia, Asia and the South Pacific and New Zealand.
I would also like to interview someone about electoral systems in Latin America but have not been successful in finding the right person to do this. If you know someone who you could fill this gap please introduce them to me via email at

Check out this episode!

Welcome to episode 3 in Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 is about elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives. In this episode I’m speaking with Professor John Gastil. John is a Professor in the Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University as well as a Senior Scholar in the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. He studies political deliberation and group decision making across a range of contexts.
Recently John and Erik Olin Wright, as part of the Real Utopias project, held a three-day workshop called Legislature by Lot. Thanks to David Schecter I was able to interview John shortly after this workshop to learn more about what was discussed. Here is a copy of the agenda for the workshop which includes the attendees.
John described this workshop as ‘a deliberation about deliberation’.
John spoke about
  • the origins of the Legislature by Lot workshop [1:32]
  • the different ways to implement sortition (random selection) [3:54]
  • some of the arguments in favour of a legislature selected by lot [5:44]
  • different models of sortition [7:40]
  • responding to criticisms of legislature by lot [10:11]
  • how to design an oversight body to support a legislature selected by lot [14:10]
  • the prospect of institutional change and transition strategies [18:34]
  • moving the agenda of using sortition forward [23:43]
  • how much work is happening around the world to test and promote the use of sortition [28:35]
  • what representation and accountability means for bodies selected by sortition [30:29]
  • deliberation, consensus, contention and voting [34:35 and 38:50]
  • what the workshop agreed on [43:18]
  • what might happen after the workshop: building links between researchers and practitioners [45:34]
  • responses to critiques of empowered mini-publics [49:35]
  • when the book arising from the workshop will be published [53:07]
John mentioned the work of the Sortition Foundation, the newDemocracy Foundation to promote the use of sortition.
Thank you for joining me today. In the next episode I will be speaking to Dr Alan Renwick about electoral reform around the world [54:11].
I hope you’ll join me then.

Check out this episode!

Provisional Schedule of Sessions

All sessions are in the Pyle Center, Room 225

The schedule shows the names of presenters attending the conference, not all the listed authors.


Friday, September 15
9:00 – 9:30 Greeting & continental breakfast
  Alternative Approaches
9:30-10:20 Graham Smith, “The circumstances of sortition”
10:30-11:20 Andrea Fellicetti, “A bottom-up perspective on sortition as a means of democratization”
11:30-12:20 Jim Fishkin, “Random assemblies for law-making? Prospects and limits”
12:30 – 1:45 LUNCH
  Contexts and Considerations for Implementation
1:45-2:35 Arash Abizadeh, “Representation, bicameralism, and sortition: reconstituting the senate as a randomly selected Citizen Assembly”
2:45-3:35 Raphaël Kies, “A prudential path towards EU sortition and legitimacy”
3:45-4:35 Vincent Jacquet, Christoph Niessen, & Pierre-Etienne Vandamme, “Complementary virtues and competing legitimacies: Inter-chamber relationships in a bicameral elected and sortitioned legislature”
4:45-5:35 Lyn Carson [via Skype], “How to ensure that a randomly-selected legislative chamber functions successfully”
7:00 Dinner at Ichiban, 610 S Park St.

Saturday, September 16

9:00-9:30 Coffee, continental breakfast
  The Larger Democratic Reform Agenda
9:30-10:20 Ned Crosby, “Legislatures by lot in the context of major democratic reforms”
10:30-11:20 Yves Sintomer, “From deliberative to radical democracy? Sortition and politics in the 21th century”
11:30-12:20 Tom Malleson, “Radical democracy and the proposal for a legislature by lot”
12:30-1:45 LUNCH
  Design Considerations
1:45-2:35 Tom Arnold, “Lessons from the Irish Constitutional Convention, 2012-14”
2:45-3:35 Dimitri Courant, “Thinking sortition: Modes of selection, deliberative frameworks and democratic principles”
3:45-4:35 David Schecter, “How to design a sortition legislature?”
7:00 Dinner, Erik Wright’s house, 1101 Grant Street

(cont on next page)

Sunday, September 17

9:00-9:30 Coffee, continental breakfast
  Moving Beyond Electoral Accountability
9:30-10:20 Brett Hennig, “On democratic representation and accountability”
10:30-11:20 Terrill Bouricius, “Why hybrid bicameralism is not right for sortition”
11:30-12:20 Campbell Wallace, “A ‘pure sortition’ proposal for democracy without elections”
12:30 – 1:45 LUNCH (perhaps sandwiches in the room?)
1:45-3:00 Open discussion and wrap-up












Andrea Felicetti

Arash Abizadeh

Brett Hennig

Campbell Wallace

Christoph Niessen

David Schecter

Dimitri Courant

Erik Olin Wright

Graham Smith

Jim Fishkin

John Pitseys

Lyn Carson (“Carson”)

Ned Crosby

Pierre-Etienne Vandamme

Raphaël Kies

Terrill Bouricius

Tom Arnold

Tom Malleson

Vincent Jacquet

Yves Sintomer


Attending but not writing a paper

Archon Fung

Jane Mansbridge

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