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An ingenious, heretical and timely argument to save democracy from elections

Democracy is in bad health. Against Elections offers a new diagnosis and an ancient remedy.

Fear-mongering populists, distrust in the establishment, personality contests instead of reasoned debate: these are the results of the latest elections.

In fact, as this ingenious book shows, the original purpose of elections was to exclude the people from power by appointing an elite to govern over them.

Yet for most of its 3000-year history, democracy did not involve elections at all: members of the public were appointed to positions in government through a combination of volunteering and lottery.

Based on studies and trials from around the globe, this hugely influential manifesto presents the practical case for a true democracy – one that actually works.

Urgent, heretical and completely convincing, Against Elections leaves only one question to be answered: what are we waiting for?


Very persuasive … There are few new big ideas in politics and few answers to the serious challenge faced by democratic politics ... invigorating and advance[s] a promising practical idea … fresh, challenging and uncomplicated

Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

This fine iconoclastic work could not be more timely ... demonstrate[s] that far from safeguarding our right to self-determination, elections are actually impeding our democracy

Karen Armstrong

Mounts a convincing case that we have wrongly conflated democracy with elections


Van Reybrouck wants to revive a system in which government is not just for the people, but really by the people … a persuasive description of a system designed to be soundly based in popular assent … A President Trump might focus attention on his views

Financial Times

Choosing our rulers by popular vote has failed to deliver true democratic government: that seems to be the verdict of history unfolding before our eyes. Cogently and persuasively, David Van Reybrouck pleads for a return to selection by lot, and outlines a range of well thought out plans for how sortitive democracy might be implemented. With the popular media and political parties fiercely opposed to it, sortitive democracy will not find it easy to win acceptance. Nonetheless, it may well be an idea whose time has come

J. M. Coetzee

A sovereign remedy for the raging crypto-oligarchy of our turbulent times

Professor Paul Cartledge, author of Democracy: A Life

Masterful and gripping ... makes you rethink the entire project of modernity

Yuval Harari, author of Sapiens, on Van Reybrouck's previous book Congo


Irish Examiner

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    July 18, 2016

    Bodley Head

    208 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    July 7, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    208 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au


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