Democracy Talk meets Iain Walker, Executive Director of the Australian charity newDEMOCRACY, which aims to innovate in how we do democracy. Iain goes beyond conventional ideas about why Western representative democracies are suffering a collapse of public trust.
He sees the problem as much deeper than one of money’s outsize influence on elections – it’s the voting itself that’s at fault. Elected officials are in permanent election mode, making thoughtful, long-term decision-making impossible. The solution newDEMOCRACY favours is sortition – randomly selected samples of the public who then ponder a policy question with help from all the evidence they can gather.
This is the first part of a two-part interview.
What if our democracies didn’t depend on celebrity politics or money-fuelled elections but rather on systems that served the majority of humanity and the planet more widely? That may seem the stuff of dreams for citizens enduring the likes of the US presidential elections yet it isn’t as far fetched as all that. Experiments in governance alternatives are popping up across the planet, their members looking for ways to do democracy better.
Adam Cronkright, co-founder of the Cochabamba, Bolivia group Democracy In Practice, joins me on Democracy Talk to imagine political life beyond the frontiers of elections. DIP has been exploring better ways to do democracy for a couple of years, tackling the frustration many people around the world feel about representative politics.
Adam’s experimentation with random selection in student governments is road testing a technique that first came to light in Ancient Athens and other Greek city states. So what lessons to draw for today’s democracy lovers? Take a listen to find out.