Sortition and its Principles: Evaluation of the Selection Processes of Citizens’ Assemblies


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ISSN: 2634-0488

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Type of work: Article (academic)






Sortition is sometimes seen as a means of addressing some weaknesses of the electoral system. Advantages of sortition are related to its three principles - randomness, representation and equality. Nowadays we are witnessing the growing popularity of the citizens’ assembly - the most expanded form of deliberative process based on sortition. The methods of selection of assembly members are very diverse. Theoretically, they should ensure that the selection process fulfils the principles of randomness, representation and equality, but in practice there are many factors that can disturb their implementation. The aims of the paper are to investigate what selection methods are used in the citizens’ assemblies and to evaluate the processes of selection of assembly members from the perspective of principles of randomness, representation and equality. For this purpose selection processes from 29 citizens’ assemblies organised in the years 2020-2021 in 9 European countries were analysed. Then the selection processes were compared with an evaluation model prepared on the basis of theoretical concepts concerning randomness, representation and equality. The study was conducted using a desk research method whose subjects were reports and methodology descriptions regarding each citizens’ assembly, as well as the assembly members’ data. The study shows the selection methods used in citizens’ assemblies are very diverse. Although almost all of the analysed assemblies were representative of the given population, in some of the cases the selection processes were far from the ideal of randomness and did not provide everyone with even near equal chances of being selected to participate.


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Full document:
Gąsiorowska, A. (2023). “Sortition and its Principles: Evaluation of the Selection Processes of Citizens’ Assemblies”. In Journal of Deliberative Democracy, 19 (1). London: University of Westminster Press.