Voting with dices

[L'Italia è un circo](vedi anche: sommario in Italiano). We in Italy are having yet another election the next week-end. I have used to do Politics in the past. I have kept the idea that Politics is one of the most noble human activities. That’s why I am quite disgusted this time.

Even designating our MPs by draw would be better than this crap. And I am serious. At least, I don’t joke too much.

Several countries have the institution of the popular jury, which is composed by drawing a (very small) sample of citizens from the population. For what I know, it originated in the US, during the American revolution, on the basis of libertarian principles. The idea was to rely on the judgement of equals.

Chance avoids bias: if the jurymen are randomly selected, there is more chance they will be fair with a defendant who they do not know and a case they are not involved in. So, why not doing that for chosing those who should rule the country?

A wretched history

Especially in a country like ours. Italy is at the last stage of its democracy, the one which was born from the blood of the WW2 and the fight against the fascism. And which has always been weak, so heavily influenced, as it was, by being a boundary country between the enemies of the cold war. Something which produced a country where for decades we haven’t had a real chance to determine an alternate government. After the official death of communism, in 1989, far from recovering from such a lack of full democracy, we have completely become a Banana Republic, where a shameless sharp businessman conquered the power by using half the televisions he owns. After having made laws to avoid trials against himself, which concerned trifles like corruption of judges, now he is as successful as never, probably the next prime minister. Worse, all has happened with the substantial connivance of its political opposition, for the point is that, left or right, our politicians are a set of clans, which of goal is conquering and keeping the power.

Beside, that happens because it is not that we are a country with a rotten head and an healthy body. Indeed, there is not much healthiness in a people who has not many problems in voting for politicians sentenced for Mafia, or for parties that, while officially talk about family and traditions, have exponents who have have been catch in coca-and-bitch parties. The fact is many Italians conceive the State as an opponent one has to survive with, or as an abstract entity to blame of all the evil. While the Politics is considered as something one can use for its own interests, getting a job in the PA for instance, no matter which bad consequences has this on the whole community and inevitably on the lives of everyone of us.

Chance can be better than taking the piss out of ourselves

In conclusion, it’s hard to believe we will be able to come out of this rubbish, by voting and playing the democracy game only. So, why not? Let’s rely on the Goddess of Luck. Maybe the fact she is blindfold will ensure she will be a little bit fair and democratic.

I’ve tried to brush up a little of Statistics. Let’s consider the simple case of two political line-ups. A certain quota of the population is with the left line-up, and obviously 100 minus the left quota is with the right. The idea is to draw a sample of future MPs which has a left quota not much different by the actual population quota, with a certain probability that this is true. So, it is a problem of proportion estimation. If I am correct, it unfortunately turns out that a representative sample of this kind needs to have a size of at least 10 thousands people (comes from proportion estimation, with 95% confidence and 1% error). 10 thousand MPs sounds like too many, and things are worse if we admit there may be three or four political areas (I believe when we deal with leading a country, it is unlikely the different thoughts cannot be synthesised and grouped into at most four groups). However there is another approach: let us organise an election for line-ups. Let us vote for ideas, not for people. Government programs and visions for the future are presented, we vote and after that we draw our representatives, considering which line-ups they agree with and making a parliament of few hundreds people, with the same proportions of line-ups which came out from the voting for ideas. This way, we can still have some kind of election, but removing the fight for the power conquest, which produces so many evil politicians.

Of course the chance selects the dishonesties and the bunglers too. However this would reflect the population and would lead to a parliament not more outrageous, indecent, and of which I couldn’t feel more ashamed of as Italian, than the one we currently have.

OK, coming back to being serious. Agreeing with Churchill on the fact that democracy
is the least worse
is inevitable. The fact is we should change it somehow, complement it with something, especially in a country like ours, where the people and who they elect are among the worst enemies of the democracy itself. For example, we could draw discussion panels and use them to understand the population, to know what they really think, how they really live and what their needs are. To gather suggestions for the politicians and for the representatives. Something not different than deliberative democracy. Which in fact is not a bad idea, although not without flaws.

And maybe not ourselves only

Is this interesting abroad? Well, I guess we are a particularly crap country. However, democracies are in crisis more or less in all the Western countries. With the end of strong ideologies era, Politics has been deprived of ideals and passion. The globalisation has shifted the real power to Economics. Better informed and educated citizens are everywhere looking at other ways to make a difference in the society they belong in. For instance by joining consumer associations, or struggling for single, focused political battles, such as the ones against the ravage of the environment where they live. Although this tendencies are interesting innovations occurred in recent years, it is obviously not enough. We do need to define somehow a political guide, with a comprehensive vision, an ability to compose a fragmentation of issues. I don’t say anything new when I imagine that new forms of citizen consultations are used to expand and improve our western democracies, provide better control from citizens over their representatives. In fact, the problem has already been studied by the EU (see here) and the British parliament (see here). And certainly it helps a lot not being in a country like mine, at the boundary between the G8 club and the third world.




Sommario in Italiano

L’Italia è diventata uno schifo. Una classe politica corrotta (di destra o sinistra, cambia poco) e un popolo che si ostina a votarla, convinto com’è che la Politica serva per il tornaconto personale e che lo Stato sia una presenza scomoda con cui convivere. Votare nelle modalità a cui siamo abituati, in questa situazione è in gran parte inutile e farsesco. Paradossalmente, sarebbe più equo il sorteggio di un campione di persone, da designare deputati per 5 anni. Purtroppo la statistica ci dice che servirebbe un campione piuttosto grande perché sia rappresentativo. Tuttavia potremmo integrare un sistema elettorale ad uno basato sul sorteggio. Il popolo potrebbe votare dei programmi elettorali, delle idee, senza che questo tipo di voto venga condizionato dagli interessi. Dopodiché si potrebbero sorteggiare delle persone, rispecchiando le percentuali assegnate ai programmi dal voto.
Sì, è vero, suona tutto un un po’ assurdo e provocatorio. Ma è meno assurdo vedere un presidente di regione che festeggia perché gli hanno dato “solo” 5 anni per favoreggiamento di mafiosi? Oppure un ministro che si chiede che cosa ci sia di male ad andare ad una manifestazione sportiva, portandosi dietro la famiglia, con l’aereo di Stato? La realtà è così frustrante che non ci resta che speculare attraverso il surreale. E comunque qualcosa di serio è stato già teorizzato negli ultimi anni e si chiama democrazia deliberativa. Potremmo cominciare ad usare più spesso qualcosa del genere. Magari la smetteremmo di continuare ad essere questo popolo incivile, che sa solo lagnarsi, ma quando si viene al dunque vota la scarpa destra e continua a sperare che, dopo le elezioni, gli diano anche quella sinistra.


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