Dutch news magazine publishes article on sortition

Submitted by webmaster on Fri, 14-02-2020 - 11:39

While many northwestern European countries have started to experiment with sortition, the Netherlands remains at a standstill. However, problems are mounting for politicians - in spite of a flourishing economy and low unemployment. The four-party center-right coalition is fragile, farmers from all over the country took their tractors to the political capital The Hague last fall to show their dissatisfaction, and teachers went on strike several times.

Sortition does not get much attention in the Netherlands, but occasionally news from abroad makes it to a major news medium. Recently, the weekly news magazine De Groene Amsterdammer published a long article on sortition and deliberative democracy, called A Gift to Politics: Citizens'  Panels Cooperate with the Government. The article sketches the declining confidence in political parties, mentions the deteriorating 'democratic legal order', and presents the route that Ireland and Belgium have taken since 2011, without neglecting sortition pitfalls.

For writing the article, the reporter paid a visit to the G1000 Summer School in Eupen, East Belgium - this region of course being the base of the first sortition-based institution in modern history. The tensions, problems, and some solutions surrounding sortition are described. Some interesting details: 1) the first theme the allotted German speaking Belgians put on the agenda, is proper working conditions for nurses; 2) warn lobbyists to stay away from the allotted citizens (otherwise there will be sanctions!), and 3) the 150 French allotted Climate Convention citizens get paid 86 euros a day (roughly 93 US$), apart from compensation for other expenses.

The article then elaborates on why it could be that sortition is not taking off in the Netherlands. Possibly this has to do with politicians' fears in matters relating to the rise of so called right-wing populism, a fear that David Van Reybrouck, who was interviewed for the article, dismisses as unnecessary: 'I say, fine. They are more than welcome. They are part of the population and I would like to know what bothers them and what, in their view, would be an improvement.'

Source: Een cadeau aan de politiek: burgerpanels denken mee met de overheid, De Groene Amsterdammer, February 12th, 2020