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Name out of a hat Should parliamentarians be drawn by lot?


Do you fancy sitting in parliament and having a say in Swiss politics? A citizens group has put forward a proposal for a lottery to choose 50 citizens to complement the House of Representatives. The promoters are looking for financial sponsors to launch a people’s initiative on the issue.

The group says everybody would be free to accept or reject the task. The designated person would get twelve months of training to learn the ropes before she or he takes up a four-year mandate. And just like a regular parliamentarian, the citizen would benefit from an annual salary of CHF130,000 ($133,400), plus expenses.

In an implicit criticism of the lawyers, entrepreneurs and officials currently sitting in parliament, those chosen at random make better representatives of the ordinary people, argues the civil society group Génération Nomination.

Ancient Greeks 

Charly Pacheexternal link, one of the group’s leading figures, launched the idea last November at a festival in Fribourg.

Ten months on, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper ran several articles featuring the proposal which refers to a common practice in Ancient Greece, carried over into the Middle Ages by northern Italian cities and also used for a recent constitutional assembly in Ireland.

Pache, a former member of the Fribourg Pirate Party, dismisses fears that a group of ordinary citizens would be easy prey for pressure groups and experts of all kinds.

“I find it really shocking to see to how unashamedly and ruthlessly politicians represent the interests of business groups,” he told the NZZ am Sonntag earlier this month.

He says ordinary citizens would more immune to corruption attempts than regular elected parliamentarians and that they wouldn’t worry too much about the next elections.

Adapated from German by Urs Geiser,

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