Category: Season 3 Elections

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.

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Welcome to episode 2 of Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 is looking at elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives.
In today’s episode, I’m talking with Professor Arend Lijphart about his work identifying two main categories of democracies which relate in part to their electoral systems.
Arend is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California. His field of specialisation is comparative politics. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, with the two editions of his Patterns of Democracy from 1984 and 2012 being perhaps his most well-known and the subject of our conversation today.
I spoke with Professor Lijphart about
How he came to devote his life to the detailed empirical analysis of democracy in multiple countries around the world [1.10]
The relationship between his empirical work and his theory around patterns of democracy [5.30]
The variables he uses to demonstrate that consensual democracies outperform majoritarian democracies [18:35 ]
Criticisms that his approach does not apply to developing non-Western democracies [28.10]
In the next episode I’ll be talking to Professor John Gastil, a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State College of Liberal Arts, about a workshop he recently co-hosted with Erik Olin Wright, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, titled Legislature by Lot [32.37]
I hope you’ll join me then.

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Thank you for joining me in episode 1 of Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 of the podcast is looking at Elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives. As you can imagine this is a huge area to cover and I would like to thank Anika Gauja from the University of Sydney who helped me develop a broad structure for this Season.
I’m going to start looking at a few areas at a high level before moving into more detail in areas such as electoral systems around the world, negative campaigning and populism, compulsory vs voluntary voting, the various institutions and actors involved and alternatives to elections, where I’ll look at sortition and digital democracy.
In today’s episode, I’m talking to Professor David Farrell. David is a Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University College Dublin. He is a specialist in the study of parties, elections, electoral systems and members of parliament. His current research focuses on the role of deliberation in constitutional reform processes.
I asked David
How would you define the term ‘electoral system’? [1:45]

How do you approach comparing so many different approaches to electoral systems around the world? [4:20]
How do you characterise different families of electoral systems? [5.00]
Could you provide an overview of the key elements of different electoral systems? [6:00]
How can everyday people evaluate the different options? [15:05]
Are there electoral reforms that warrant serious consideration that are still only theoretical i.e. they haven’t been used anywhere? [20:25]
 What do you think about the idea of using sortition to select a house of review? [22:15]
If you were asked to re-design the Irish electoral system what would it look like? [25:25]

Thank you for joining me today. In next week’s episode I’ll be talking to Emeritus Professor Arend Lijphart about his lifetime’s work. [29:40]
I hope you’ll join me then.

Check out this episode!

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