Friday, 20 April 2012
Dr Alessandro Pluchino won an igNobel prize (for achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think) for his work that suggested that adding some randomly selected representatives could improve the performance of a Parliament. Though his mathematical model is necessarily simplistic and his assumptions open to criticism, the idea ties in with the notion that an increased diversity of views can enhance a debate. Similarly, The Wisdom of Crowds argues that amalgamating discrete and diverse views improves forecasting and judgment.
Professor Lyn Carson of the Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy at the University of Western Sydney says random selection can improve deliberation, as well as representativeness, in democracy. She says, even representatives who don't know much have an important role to play. "They'll be asking really naive questions or playing the devil's advocate.... It's all fodder for deliberation."
Interactive Democracy offers an alternative route to combining diverse views but could also utilise random selection of some representatives. However, they would need the confidence to cope with political life.