From deliberative to radical democracy? Sortition and politics in the twenty-first century

Special report–Sortition in the twenty-first century
By Yves Sintomer

The paper puts forward four arguments. The first is that over the last few decades, two waves of democratic innovation based upon sortition can be differentiated, based on partly different concrete devices, embodying different social dynamics and pointing toward different kinds of democracy. The second argument is that the rationale of the first wave, based on randomly selected mini-publics, largely differs from the dynamic of political sortition in Athens, as it points toward deliberative democracy rather than radical democracy. Conversely, empowered sortition processes that have emerged during the second wave better capture the spirit of radical Athenian democratic traditions. The third argument is normative: these empowered sortition processes are more promising for a real democratization of democracy. The final argument is that any proposal of a legislature by lot must rely on this lesson when trying to defend a normatively convincing and politically realistic perspective.


  • sortition
  • random selection
  • deliberative democracy
  • radical democracy
  • citizen juries
  • deliberative pool
  • citizen assemblies
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