Election watch: Stephen Fry has the solution to the Franco Debono debacle…

Alternate election system

The best way to a competent cabinet.

In the current, lively political climate, half the country is rooting for the “hard done by” Lawrence Gonzi and the other half for the “gutsy and straight-talking” Franco Debono.  A good many of those doing the public rooting either have hidden agendas or, at the very least, are doing said rooting out of partisan motives. Which is why I’m not doing any public rooting and am keeping my real views to myself.

I know I’m not the only one fed up of this whole election malarkey that seems to have paralized our island. So when I chanced upon an episode of Q.I. – where Stephen Fry offers the perfect solution for replacing election systems –  it was almost like Youtube (where I got the video suggestion) had developed mind-reading powers. Very unusual for a service that has been known to suggest Britney Spears right after I listen to P.J. Harvey. But there you go…

Of course, it’s not actually Fry who comes up with the solution. The system of sortition, as it is called, was reputed to be favoured by the Greeks and is delightfully simple.  Government is elected by means of a lottery. Yep.  Stephen Fry does a better job of explaining it in a couple of sentences than I can:

“The best way of electing MPs is using sortition – the system the ancient Greeks used, which was a simple lottery. It guarantees that powerful interest groups can have no influence on the outcome; it does not favour people who are good at winning elections such as people who are charismatic, wealthy, well-educated or well-connected; and you cannot buy votes from people so it is impossible to be corrupt. This system is the same one we use when picking a jury.”

For the full episode transcript, you can click here. What an idea huh? Of course, the cons are many. You are likely to get someone who has no idea or experience of managing anything, let alone a country. But this can be circumvented by a good, qualified team of employees (think of them as career diplomats on a local basis). Of course, this in turn is likely to lead to a Yes, Minister scenario where some bumbling idiot is led by the nose by a corrupt team of career politicians. This can also be circumvented by means of a judicious system of checks. There’s also the possibility that you get some fundamentalist nutter in power – but said power can be limited by submitting issues of major importance to a national referendum.

Ah, the fun of politics. Those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis are very well aware that it isn’t really my thing.  I usually like to use up my writing quota with things that are a tad more intriguing than which political party is likely to hold the winning ticket through the next election. On a day-to-day basis I like to leave this whole politics thing to those who have more experience in the area than me. Which apparently means just about everyone else on the island I suspect.

But this doesn’t stop me from dreaming up wildly improbably scenarios while trying to imagine how on earth the Maltese would keep themselves entertained if partisan politics didn’t exist any more. A girl can dream…

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Comments

  1. brimba says:

    A system which “guarantees that powerful interest groups can have no influence on the outcome; it does not favour people who are good at winning elections such as people who are charismatic, wealthy, well-educated or well-connected; and you cannot buy votes from people so it is impossible to be corrupt…” sounds utopian….the question that arises then, is….. Once in power, how long will the “elected” individuals remain uncorrupted…by, of course, influential groups or wealthy and well-connected (never mind well-educated or charismatic) people….THAT is the question!! :)

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