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Reading: A Randomly Selected Chamber: Promises and Challenges

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Research Article

A Randomly Selected Chamber: Promises and Challenges

Authors:

Pierre-Etienne Vandamme ,

University of Louvain, BE
About Pierre-Etienne

Pierre-Etienne Vandamme is completing a Ph.D. in political theory at the Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics, University of Louvain (Belgium). He is working on the relation between democracy and social justice.

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Antoine Verret-Hamelin

Université Laval, CA
About Antoine

Antoine Verret-Hamelin is doing his Ph.D. at Université Laval (Canada). He is working in the field of intergenerational justice.

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Abstract

This paper explores the idea of a randomly selected chamber of representatives (RSC) through an appreciation of the promises it offers and the challenges it would face. We identify two main promises: a RSC could offset the aristocratic character of elections, thereby increasing the legitimacy of the political system; and it could increase democracy’s epistemic potential, thanks to gains in terms of diversity, deliberations, humility, and long-term perspective. We then discuss four key challenges. First, participation: how can the chamber have diversity without mandatory participation or heavy sanctions? Second, how can we conceive or build legitimacy for this non-elected and somehow unaccountable chamber’s views? Third, independence: how to safeguard randomly selected people from corruption? Finally, there may be a linguistic challenge: if the RSC has a deliberative role, how should it cope with the possible linguistic diversity of its members? We conclude that these challenges are not insurmountable, but reveal some trade-offs that cannot be entirely dissolved.

How to Cite: Vandamme, P.-E., & Verret-Hamelin, A. (2017). A Randomly Selected Chamber: Promises and Challenges. Journal of Public Deliberation, 13(1), 5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16997/jdd.271
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Published on 20 Apr 2017.
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