The green case for a randomly selected chamber

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Pierre-Etienne Vandamme with Antoine Verret-Hamelin
Palgrave Macmillan

One of the greatest challenges facing current generations is the environmental and climate crisis. Democracies, so far, have not distinguished themselves by their capacity to bring about appropriate political responses to these challenges. This is partly explicable in terms of a lack of state capacity in a globalized context. Yet we also argue that election-centered democracies suffer from several flaws that make them inapt to deal with this challenge properly: youth is not appropriately represented; parliaments suffer from a lack of diversity; elected representatives’ time-horizon is too narrow; anti-regulation lobbies have too much influence. Considering this, we argue for rejuvenating our democratic systems by introducing a randomly selected legislative chamber, which would be permanently integrated to our political systems and would play a deliberative and scrutinizing role. We have identified four eco-political arguments in favor of such reform. The generational rebalancing argument, which we examine first, has some plausibility but is not the strongest. The other three arguments – its eco-epistemic promises; its wider time horizon; and the independence of its members from short-term corporate interests – however, appear to us to be much more convincing.