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”
“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”
“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