Democracy Transformed: Perceived Legitimacy of the Institutional Shift from Election to Random Selection of Representatives


While democracy remains a firmly-held ideal, the present state of electoral democracy is plagued by growing disaffection. As a result, both scholars and practitioners have shown considerable interest in the potential of random selection as a means of selecting political representatives. Despite its potential, deployment of this alternative is limited by concerns about its perceived legitimacy. Drawing on an inductive analysis of the replacement of elections with random selection in two student governments in Bolivia, we explore stakeholders’ perceptions of the legitimacy of random selection by investigating both their overall support for randomly selecting representatives as well as the views that inform this support. Overall, we find that random selection is indeed accepted as a legitimate means of selecting representatives, with stakeholders broadly preferring random selection and recommending its use in other schools—views which are informed by a critical assessment of random selection’s relative merits. Moreover, we find that perceptions may be affected by contextual factors that extend beyond individuals’ own values. Our findings thus contribute to work on random selection, its contextual embeddedness, and on the values underpinning democratic structures.


legitimacy, demarchy, democracy, sortition, Random selection

How to Cite

Pek S. & Kennedy J. & Cronkright A., (2018) “Democracy Transformed: Perceived Legitimacy of the Institutional Shift from Election to Random Selection of Representatives”, Journal of Public Deliberation 14(1). doi:







Simon Pek (Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria)
Jeffrey Kennedy (Faculty of Law, McGill University)
Adam Cronkright (Democracy In Practice)



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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This article has been peer reviewed.

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