Institutionalize the drawing of lots in Brussels -
What do our politicians think?
Agora Public Report - December 2018
We already knew it: the weather is often gloomy for the people of Brussels. According to a 2017 survey,while 47% of citizens are in favor(27% neutral and 25% against) the establishment of a mixed legislative assembly composed of elected officials and citizens drawn by lot at the federal level,only 29% of Belgian politicians declare themselves in favor(6% neutral and 67% against) of this type of assembly. A magnificent textbook case of the gap between politics and citizens.But, what about the results at the end of 2018, when the May 2019 elections are fast approaching?
To find out, Agora met the political parties represented in the Brussels Parliament, giving priority to the president of each regional party. From July to September, we conducted a major survey of political parties in Brussels: Ecolo, the PS, the cdH, DéFI and the PTB-PVDA answered our questions. Six in number, they concern their opinion on the institutionalization of the drawing of lots and on the possible presence of a citizens' assembly elected by drawing of lots in the Brussels Parliament from May 2019. The results are edifying: they reveal the great disparity parties on this point. Figure 1 provides a synthetic summary of the survey. It is commented on below.
(click on the PDF icon to access the pdf version of the table)
Let's be optimistic,two parties explicitly declare that they support the establishment of an assembly drawn by lot: the PS and the Ecolo party. Initiatives have already been undertaken by Ecolo to make joint commissions possible; the PS, although aware of the urgency of this issue, has apparently not yet decided how to put this option into practice.A big downside though: for the PS, this assembly should beadvisory only. According to Ecolo, the citizens drawn by lot could deliberate with the elected officials in theparliamentary committeesbut they would not have the same decision-making power as a parliamentarian. We therefore fall back into the frustrating pattern of citizen participation without sufficient political consequences. Participation is present, but keeping all the control, and therefore the power.
On the side of the other parties, the sky of democracy is struggling to clear. The cdH and DéFI do not really comment on the question. Although they do not see any opposition in principle, the subject is not or little discussed. This is a choice of priorities: despite citizen mobilizations and the desire of citizens to participate in the debate, these issues have not yet been debated within these parties. At the cdH, opinions differ. DéFI does not currently plan to do so. Finally,time spoils with the PTBwhich supports the current representative and elective system. He doesn't think the draw is a solution.
Why is the opinion of the population not heard?Five out of the six parties questioned openly declare that the drawing of lots is not part of their program for the regional elections. And none of the political parties consulted think that this type of assembly should have adecision-making role, if only on some of the files. When they support the existence of such an assembly, the parties see it as a non-binding mechanism and without direct democratic power. In other words, as one might expect, the political parties do not want the population to be brought to participate in the decisions in a direct way.
Based on a detailed analysis of the situation and the many past or present alternatives in this regard,Agora, a citizens' movement, has developed a position that it wishes to defend in the regional elections of May 2019 for the Brussels-Capital Region. We are mobilizing for the establishment of a regional assembly composed of citizens drawn by lot, which would be represented by elected officials in the Brussels Parliament.We are convinced of the need for a movement like ours to transform the democratic system in depth.The list that we present at the elections could allow at least one elected spokesperson in the Brussels Parliament to relay the decisions of the assembly drawn by lot. This assembly, which we will set up in September 2019, is intended to be open to everyone and detached from regular electoralism, representative of the diversity of the Brussels population, with the aim of debating and formulating real proposals to be submitted to the Brussels Parliament. This spokesperson's only program will beto institutionalize the drawing of lots to complete the system, andto bring the decisions taken by the assembly to Parliament. From May 2019, the establishment of a system to truly represent citizens and respond to their requests and needs.
For more information, we invite you to consultour founding text,our frequently asked questions, or tojoin the Agora initiative.