In the Swiss Parliament by lot?

Crazy idea? Not at all, it’s worth considering. Initiative Committee of Fribourg “Generation Nomination” (“GeNomi”) proposes to replace the usual parliamentary elections on a kind of “lottery democracy.” Our story.

“A part-time job with an income of 120 thousand francs a year! How do you like the job?” This question can be seen in the promotional booklet that Charly Paz (Charly Pache), coordinator of the initiative group “GeNomi”, and Nicolas Locatelli (Locatelli Nicolas), one of the activists, distributed in the center of Fribourg for Place Python (Place Python). The question was worded in an ironic way, but in the background it contains very serious problems associated as much with possible alternative format for the functioning of democracy in Switzerland.

After all, popular legislative initiative, in favor of which agitate Charlie pasch and Nicolas Locatelli, called “Für einen repräsentativen Nationalrat” (“For a representative of the national Council”) and offers it to abandon the usual parliamentary election and go to the formation of national parliamentary building on the basis of lots/lottery. As for the 120 thousand francs a year, many now in Switzerland obtains the average MP. This amount is included as wages, and money for the maintenance of assistants.

The reference to “work part time” alludes to the fact that the official Parliament in the country unprofessional, and deputies elected in Bern under the vaults of the Federal Palace, do not stop working on its core specialty. Yes, and in fact, 120 thousand a year is not the money that allowed here to start a vineyard and build a “home for the ducks”. The money is good — but nothing unusual. So, maybe an MP by lot is the smart thing to do in a situation when a parliamentary seat is not a pass to financial heaven, but rather tedious and not very glamorous work?

At the Place Python today there is a traditional weekly market, so that people around a lot. Charles Pash and Nicolas Locatelli trying to establish contacts with citizens, to involve them in conversations on relevant topics. An MP at random. When all the shopping is done, and the weather has, why not stay and not to speculate about “the fate of the Motherland”? Activists of the group “GeNomi” say that, in their opinion, today’s Swiss national Council is not a real representative representative of the interests of all residents of Switzerland, and therefore the challenge of ensuring equal political representation, this Parliament does not, that democracy is becoming a very serious problem.

“Today the average member of the National Council is, as a rule, a man in his fifties with higher education and high army ranks. In reality, many populations do not feel that such people are really able to reflect their interests in politics. They feel relegated to the sidelines, forgotten and not understood. This applies, for example, youth and women,” describes Charles Pash the situation. His companion, the two girls at the age of just 20, listen with an expression of genuine interest on his face.

A lot of the same “will immediately provide all citizens equal opportunity, because becoming a member of Parliament can then on Election Day, virtually every. The Parliament will be more representative, it is really will be presented a slice of the whole society, not only lobby groups and elite strata, with resources, both financial and administrative. Accidentally elected the Deputy nobody owe his place, because solving it will take more independently, guided by the ideas of the common good, not selfish and private interests”, — said S. Pash.

However, in the end, all his eloquence is wasted time. The positive reaction from girls is not noticeable, rather the opposite. “What did you think of all this? You would put a signature under this initiative?”. “I don’t know what to say,” answers one. “We’re actually not very interested in politics,” adds the friend, and the two then go away. A man of about 70 listens with half an ear to the arguments of Nicolas Locatelli, but to take the promotional flyer refuses.

His opinion clearly: “this is Madness, and not a political initiative! Only what you have in mind something going on?”, he says and walks away, angrily muttering something under his breath. Looking ahead, we note that such strongly negative opinions remains today the exception. Despite the fact that puzzled and skeptical assessments, there was no shortage prevailing in the passers-by were all the same curiosity and interest. Deputy lot? In General, outside the box! But how it can be implemented in practice?

Interesting idea, worth thinking about?

“Normal parliamentary elections are the best system. What happens if you assign members on the lot? This means that the Parliament will come unprepared people will need to teach the profession of a parliamentarian and which would be easy to succumb to manipulation by the powerful “captains of economy”, — said a passing man, and then suddenly burst into a tirade with the criticism of the current Swiss Parliament that “the whole is in the hands of lobbyists and large corporations”. In his opinion, the political system of Switzerland is only “seemingly democratic, but actually those who have no money, no chance to be elected to Parliament”.

Man leaves, but after a few minutes he comes back and asks Charlie Pasha and Nicolas Locatelli, whether he can leave them his address: “I would like to participate in your work when you, for example, will organize a debate or some other event. But I have no Internet, so could you write me a letter?”. Interest and other passers-by. “Give me several flyers. I know a lot of different people, which is likely to be interested in this project,” says a young woman, and adds that she would have signed the initiative because in fact it is agree with many things. “But first I want to know more about it and read. Be sure to go to your web site and carefully read the text of the initiative”.

Another man said that he had heard something about this idea, but that so far his final opinion is not formed. On Nicolas Locatelli he literally unleashes a flurry of questions. The answers he listens very carefully, argues, agrees, and at some point it turns out that a former member of the Parliament of Fribourg. Saying goodbye and leaving, he says: “an Interesting idea, I should seriously consider it”.

Unique “know-how”

Another passerby, a young man, determined. “In principle, I agree: today members of Parliament are too much tied to various lobbying interests, and it is gradually becoming a serious problem. And I think the Deputy needs to have a certain intellectual baggage, and what specific skills he should have, but otherwise, he will be able to make decisions on issues that are becoming harder and harder”?

On the other hand, he said that in Switzerland the citizens have become accustomed to decide in a referendum satisfied with the tough questions. And if people are able to come and vote, after taking a conscious decision, why they can’t do the same, becoming members of Parliament? Also, and this is really a very strong argument selected by lot “servants of the people”, according to the initiative, will undergo annual training, with the opportunity of taking really important decisions, to consult with recognized experts.

In the debate, chimes in a young girl. “It all seems a bit utopian. Annual professional courses — it will definitely not be enough in order to obtain the necessary parliamentary activities experience and skills. As for current members, I submitted, regardless of whether I program it or not, quite competent”. “Are you sure?”, asks her Charles Pash. On reflection, the young woman answers with a laugh: “Well, I guess I live in utopia and behind the times”.

The day is completed. The first experience of contact with people on the street turned out for activists “GeNomi” very useful and instructive. Recall that in order to make the people’s legislative initiative for referendum in Switzerland should be within 18 months to collect 100 thousand valid signatures. Charles Pash and Nicolas Locatelli work done satisfied.

The collection of signatures, in fact, this is a very difficult task, but in its success, they believe, because the battle of David against Goliath, too, at first seemed “mission impossible”. Soon they intend to launch an information campaign that will last all 2017. And then we’ll see! And whatever the fate of their initiative, one thing is clear — the skills of doing political work at the level of electoral basis belong to the “know-how” to develop which is possible only in practice.