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This user believes in
Democracy without elections.

Suggestion for "Demarchy in Fiction"[edit]

Would this be apropriate?

"An extreme form of demarchy is the focus of one episode of the science fiction television series Babylon 5. In the episode an alien race is thrown into chaos when a constitutionally required period of demarchy is reached. During this period, every community is expected to randomly sort themselves into equal numbers of "greens" and "purples" who then fight a revolutionary civil war against each other. The victors become members of a new and dominant political party until the following revolutionary period begins." anonymous

That doesn´t seem to be what demarchy is about to me... . regards Sean Heron 17:02, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Occupy Wall street Movement's "Consensus Process" as a variation on Demarchy. Demarchy is random, the "Consensus Process" as used by the Occupy Movement may, or may not be random. Tim Kasey on Oct. 17th, 2011. If you can find an earlier citation, I would be willing to concede my credit for this discovery. The "Occupy Wall street" movement may be too new to find anything newer on the subject. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:30, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

General Discussion[edit]

The examples here are good, but broader than just "Demarchy", which AFAIK is a fairly specific proposal for a political structure. Idealy this page should be split into "Demarchy" and "Sortition" pages which reference each other, the more general stuff ending up under "Sortition".

-- pm67nz

OK, sortition now exists, but I didn't find a convenient home for the old Consensus Conference text from this page:

To organize a Consensus Conference around a particular topic, advertisements are made, seeking local "lay volunteer participants" who are chosen to reflect the demographic makeup of the community and who lack significant prior knowledge or involvement in the topic at hand. The final panel might consist of about 15 people, including homemakers, office and factory workers, and university-educated professionals. The participants engage in a process of study, discussion, and consultation with technical experts that culminates in a public forum and the production of a report summarizing the panel's conclusions about the topic at hand.

"Not only are laypeople elevated to positions of preeminence, but a carefully planned program of reading and discussion culminating in a forum open to the public ensures that they become well-informed prior to rendering judgment,” says Loka Institute director Richard Sclove. "Both the forum and the subsequent judgment, written up in a formal report, become a focus of intense national attention - usually at a time when the issue at hand is due to come before Parliament. Though consensus conferences are hardly meant to dictate public policy, they do give legislators some sense of where the people who elected them might stand on important questions. They can also help industry steer clear of new products or processes that are likely to spark public opposition."

-- pm67nz

To my knowledge no other person has come up with the term "Klerostocracy" except myself. If I am the first, then I release the copyright of the term to the public domain.
One Salient Oversight 05:49, 29 Jun 2004 (UTC)

It would be interesting to see accountability addressed. In a representative democracy, the representatives (supposedly) are accountable. In a direct democracy, the people are accountable to themselves. In a demarchy, how would a random selection be accountable? Just curious.  :) -- Stevietheman 23:09, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I guess for the answer to that, we should look at examples of how accountability actually exists in both existing representative democracies and in existing demarchies. What does it mean, for example, to say that George W. Bush or Bill Clinton is "accountable"? Does it mean that there is much chance they will be punished for misdeeds in office? Not likely. Lower-level government functionaries are sometimes held accountable for their misdeeds, but even there it doesn't happen all that often, and in fact rewards and punishments are often meted out according to some standard other than "accountability to the public." In the U.S., for example, politicians are typically much more beholden to and responsive to the demands of large corporations and major donors than they are to everyday citizens. So "accountability" really isn't all that perfect in existing representative democracies. As for demarchy, the U.S. jury system is an example of demarchy at work. Jurors are chosen at random from a pool of the general population and are expected to give up a few days of their time to pass judgment on people who have been accused of violating the law. After they issue their verdict, they go home. It's not a perfect system either, but it works reasonably well, and most jurors deliberate in good faith. There are some cases in which individual jurors have been bribed or corrupted in other ways, but I think those sorts of manipulations are the exception rather than the rule, and overall I think juries are less likely to be corrupted by money than the professional politicians who rely on campaign donors in representative democracy.
On the other hand, no one has ever tried to run an entire government based on demarchy, so it is impossible to say whether such a system would be as susceptible to corruption as traditional democracy. --Sheldon Rampton 00:32, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Accountability is never perfect and it never will be. It's also not just about punishing people. It's also about guiding politicians into "doing the right thing" by shining light on their activities (so it's very relatable to transparence). It's also about determining who is responsible for doing what and how they can be accessed.
Transgressions aren't always punishable; for instance, a politician might get "slapped" by unfavorable news coverage, or their popularity may decrease. These are not punishments as much as they are signals to the politician to change their course.
Your response didn't include any information about how randomly selected groups can be accountable. At least one can say that representatives are somewhat accountable, while groups like juries essentially lose accountability once they leave the courtroom. -- Stevietheman 00:57, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
It's true that juries lose accountability once they leave the courtroom, but that is precisely what enables them to function as disinterested parties while also acting as a representative of the broader community. Do you think juries would render better decisions if they could be pressured by financial threats and rewards or by getting "slapped" by unfavorable news coverage, or if they had to worry about getting voted off the jury (some of the mechanisms by which accountability is achieved in electoral politics)?
"Accountability" is really another way of saying "representativeness." When we say that an elected official is held accountable to the voters, what we mean is that he or she must be perceived as representing their interests or get voted out of office. (Of course, public officials are also accountable to their financial patrons and to opinion-shapers like the media who influence the electorate.) The idea of demarchy is that representativeness is achieved the same way it is achieved in opinion polls: through random selection aimed at creating a deliberative body that is a representative sample of the community. Outside of juries, however, this approach has mostly been used to create advisory bodies rather than bodies with actual enforceable authority. --Sheldon Rampton 02:08, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Klerostocracy isn't exactly the same as Demarchy -- Klerostocracy would mean that decisions are made randomly (who decides the list is another matter), whereas demarchy means that the decisions are made by randomly chosen people.
User:Cagliost 30-08-2004

Problems on the implementation of demarcy[edit]

I'm not happy with the current state of the section titled "problems on the implementation of demarchy," but rather than simply delete the problematic sections, I think I should first annotate it here to explain what I find objectionable. The section in question is as follows:

Perhaps the most difficult part of Demarchy is amending a nation's constitution in order to allow for this form of government. Nations based upon federalism usually have a bicameral system that allows smaller entities to have the power to veto any changes. Should representatives in both houses be selected randomly?
For starters, I'm inclined to question the formulation, "perhaps the most difficult part..." It uses weasel language ("perhaps") to soften a bold claim, for which there is scant evidence. Why is amending a nation's constitution the most difficult part of demarchy? Since no one has ever tried to amend a nation's constitution in this fashion, it's really impossible to know how difficult it would be. One could argue with equal justification that the "most difficult part" would be devising a scheme for selecting members of policy juries that is both random and representative of the population as a whole. Or perhaps the "most difficult part" would be getting people to actually volunteer to serve on decision-making panels. (In the U.S. system, a fair number of people go out of their way to avoid jury duty.)
In addition, it isn't necessarily the case that amending a nation's constitution would be necessary to introduce demarchy. In the U.S., we already have a system of demarchy that makes decisions in criminal trials. The jury that acquitted Michael Jackson, for example, was an example of demarchy. Most political systems in practice are a hybrid of different systems of governance, and demarchy could operate at some levels of government while other processes operate at other levels. Amending a constitution to achieve "pure" demarchy would undoubtedly be a challenge, but so would amending a constitution to achieve pure democracy, or pure monarchy for that matter.
Finally, the paragraph above discusses a problem in implementing demarchy under very specific conditions: nations based upon federalism with a bicameral system. However, not all nations operate under these particular rules. In the U.S. there is a link between bicameralism and federalism, with each state being assigned the same number of senators regardless of that state's population. This system is supposed to ensure that small states are not overwhelmed by the power of large states, but it also obviously is at odds with one of the principles of democracy, namely that each citizen has an equal voice in shaping government. Under the U.S. system, people from sparsely populated states actually have more individual power than people from heavily populated states. And in a number of countries, such as Japan or France, bicameralism is not linked with federalism at all. The passage above seems to carry an unexamined point of view which assumes that the U.S. is the norm against which a novel concept such as demarchy must be judged.
One of the greatest problems of this process would be the acquiescence of a majority of political parties to essentially give up their power. Politicians and political parties (both major and minor) stand to lose a great deal if Demarchy is to be introduced. It would be very difficult to convince politicians in the short term to even consider the idea.
The above paragraph really says nothing specific about demarchy at all. It's certainly true that any type of change is bound to encounter resistance from those who benefit from the existing status quo. For that matter, monarchies and dictatorships have not easily given up their power when confronted with demands for democracy, and furthermore democracies have almost never been transformed into monarchies. But does this mean that an article about democracy should have a section titled "problems of implementation" which argues that "one of the greatest problems" of democracy is that it is hard to convince monarchs to adopt it?
Another problem arises when Demarchy is applied to the Judicial and Executive branches of the government. Should a president be elected by the people? Or should he or she be elected by randomly selected electors? In this situation, what would a person need to do in order to be recognised as a potential Presidential candidate by such electors?
This paragraph above really only discusses an alleged problem with the executive branch and not with the judicial. As I mentioned earlier, the U.S. (and other countries based on Anglo-American common law) actually already has a judicial system that implements elements of demarchy. As for how the executive branch would be chosen, one can only speculate, but there's no reason to expect that it would involve "randomly selected electors." As for the executive branch, perhaps a governmental system based primarily on demarchy wouldn't need an executive branch at all; or, perhaps the executive branch would still be democratically elected, while other branches would be selected through demarchy. In any case, this is likely to be more of a dilemma in countries like the U.S., where the executive branch is clearly separate from the legislative branch, than in countries like England where the prime minister and cabinet actually sit in parliament.

In short, the passage above seems to make a number of speculative assertions, based on fairly arbitrary assumptions about the type of existing political system in which someone might attempt to implement demarchy. I think it would be good for this article to include some discussion of potential problems with demarchy, but the "problems of implementation" section in its current form doesn't seem to do the job. --Sheldon Rampton 06:59, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I've just rewritten this section, but it's still unreferenced. -- Beland 18:25, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

BC example and general comments[edit]

I reworded the BC Citizen's Assembly example to remove the claim that it "used Demarchy". The article has just finished defining demarchy as a "political system without the states or bureaucracies" and "democracy without elections". A group chosen by the government specifically (and solely) to recommend changes to (not the elimination of) elections does not seem to be demarchy, regardless as to whether the group itself may have been chosen by sortition!

Also, some of the later sections of the article seem to be written more as an essay on demarchy, not an encyclopedic article. "Demarchy could also replace...", "An alternative...might be...", "Many politicians make decisions...for their own political gain". A tonal rewrite is probably in order. - David Oberst 20:27, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Removal of "Klerostocracy" from first sentence[edit]

As I have noted above, the word "Klerostocracy" was probably invented by myself. As such, there is actually no other reference to this word that I know of outside this article. Since that is the case, I have decided to remove the word from the first sentence of the opening paragraph. I still think the word is valid and the second section of the article about the word should be included. --One Salient Oversight 03:02, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Direct Democracy/Demarchy[edit]

It would seem that many of the criticisms of direct demo. are shared by demarchy. A synopsis of or link to criticisms of direct democracy would help address the lack of content in criticism of demarchy.

Sortition vs. Demarchy[edit]

What exactly is the difference? Should the two articles be combined in some way?

Sortition is the process of selection of jurors. Demarchy is a theoretical system of government that runs on sortition. For example, you can have sortition without demarchy, but not demarchy without sortition. I think they are two different things, and should remain two separate articles. Jiminezwaldorf 19:16, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Sortition is selection by lottery - it has nothing to do with juries as such. Apart from that, I agree that sortition and demarchy are different subjects - although the article on sortition has some content that looks more appropriate for the demarchy article. - 07:42, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Note that I have sent a merger to Demarchy from Sortition. --One Salient Oversight (talk) 04:18, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Sortition and demarchy should be kept separate. Sortition is a general mechanism for selecting decision makers of some kind, or rather, a mechanism for selecting them from a larger, pre-selected pool. Demarchy is an application, a form of government based on a particular kind of sortition: top-level decision makers selected from a relatively comprehensive pool of citizens. This indicates that the sortition and demarchy articles should be distinct, and suggests that any extended discussions of historical and theoretical applications of sortition to demarchy per se (for example, in Greece) might best be placed in the demarchy article, with only a brief summary here. (talk) 03:56, 8 August 2010 (UTC)

Sortition is larger than demarchy. This article does a disservice by conflating the two. "Demarchy" is a specific use of sortition. John Burnheim was the one to popularize 'demarchy' and he meant it in a special, limited sense -- citizen juries or commissions. / The whole article 'demarchy' should be much diminished to speak only of that proposal. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MedianMale (talkcontribs) 16:06, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

I agree totally. The article on demarchy can stay but there should be minimal content on random selection (sortition) within it. Just reference the sortition page. Mikedonovan2011 (talk) 21:01, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Text Battle[edit]

There seems to be a battle going on. Some users keep pulling the text down, leaving this big wide open white space on the page, and some users (or user) keeps pulling it back up. I think it looks fine the way it is (right now) with the text pulled up. If you want to pull it down again, note your reasons/make your suggestion on this discussion page. Otherwise leave it the way it is. Jiminezwaldorf 02:31, 27 September 2007 (UTC)


As it currently stands this article reads like a promotional piece for Demarchy, and runs afoul of WP:NPOV . The electionering section has line that assert opinions as facts and list the many unproven benefits of Demarchy. I was tempted to remove most of the first three sections because of POV statements, but I thought it would be best to bring it to the talk page for discussion. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:15, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Definitely don't just remove all of those sections. The article on demarchy should describe the beliefs of demarchy's proponents for the same reason that an article on Roman Catholicism should describe the beliefs of Catholics. If you want to rework the language in some fashion to make it more clear that these are the beliefs of demarchy theorists and not the point of view of Wikipedia itself, feel free to do so, but don't just delete the information. --Sheldon Rampton (talk) 05:41, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Maybe my above language was a little too bold, I agree with you that there should be a section for the beliefs of Demarchy theorists, it should be just that a section about their beliefs and not state it as fact, and it should be sourced. I believe the Roman Catholicism article does this in a excellent way, and I would love to see this article do this and I will begin reworking the language. TonyBallioni (talk) 13:59, 20 January 2008 (UTC)


I don't think it is, except in a trivial sense. Burnheim wrote:

Democracy is possible only if the decision-makers are a representative sample of the people concerned. 
I shall call a polity based on this principle a demarchy.  
“Demarchy” is an archaic word which Hayek used to describe the view he advocated in 
Law, Legislation and Liberty (3 vols., London, Routledge   and Kegan Paul: 1973, 1976, 1979).  
How ever, since he did not employ it persistently, it has not passed into current use and I feel 
justified in attempting to appropriate it.

In addition to anarchy there is monarchy, oligarchy, matriarchy etc. Demarchy literally means "people-rule", more or less the same as democracy, and would have that meaning even if the word anarchy didn't exist. Anocracy on the other hand, would mean something quite different ("no-power"?). In short demarchy is derived from dem- and -archy, rather than democracy and anarchy.

Unless of course anyone can come up with a relevant citation from either Burnheim or Hayek. Pm67nz (talk) 05:54, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

OED has references for 'demarchy' back to 1642. And defines it as "the office of a demarch; a popular government. The municipal body of a modern Greek commune." (Sortition back to 1597) -- Mindstalk (talk) 18:57, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Merging parts of Sortition article with Demarchy article[edit]

I have noticed that the Sortition article has taken a life of its own and is now pretty much an article on Demarchy. Just to reiterate:

1. Sortition is a process of random selection.

2. Demarchy is a system of government whereby representatives are selected by sortition.

In other words, sortition can be applied beyond the world of politics (eg lotto) while Demarchy is a form of politics based upon sortition. Much of the Sortition article needs to be moved over to the Demarchy article.

--One Salient Oversight (talk) 04:25, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

As can be seen above, Sortition was broken out of Demarchy in the first place. Seems odd to merge them. And I don't think they should be merged: sortition is a procedure, while one definition of demarchy is an application of that procedure. But demarchy has other meanings, such as direct democracy. -- Mindstalk (talk) 18:55, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I can't quite agree with your definitions, or at least I draw the line between them in a different place. Sure the word "Sortition" has a wider meaning outside of political science (covered in Wikipedia under names like Random selection), but it is also the term most often used to label the concept described on the Sortition page: the random selection of individual people empowered to make some decision(s) on behalf of the population from which they were sampled. The most notable current meaning of the word "Demarchy" is the particular system of bottom-up government proposed by John Burnheim, with meanings of secondary importance derived from SciFi. If anything it is the Demarchy page which has "taken on a life of its own" and should be pruned back to its topic. I suppose my position is summed up by the Examples section on the Sortition page, where Demarchy is just one amongst many, and by no means the most significant. Pm67nz (talk) 03:07, 2 May 2010 (UTC) (the original Demarchy/Sortition splitter)
I agree with Pm67nz. --Drono (talk) 05:02, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

I have cleaned up the intro a little to first, aim for some neutrality and secondly to distance demarchy from a system of voting for representation with a system designed to overcome problems inherent in democracy. As a system it is either that practices in the past, or an unimplemented theory.

I don't think sortition should be merged with demarchy. Sortition is used in functions outside of national or regional government.

The article needs some serious cleaning. It is littered with personal opinion, wild theory and almost no references. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shabidoo (talkcontribs) 17:37, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

I agree with Mindstalk, Pm67nz, Shabidoo, and I find that I made the same points independently above, and I am (boldly) removing the proposed-merger templates. (talk) 03:57, 8 August 2010 (UTC)

Merger proposal (again) [december 2012][edit]

I would like to again propose to merge the two articles. Demarchy seems to have been coined by Hayek for something totally unrelated to what this article is about. Later, Burnheim used it for his proposal which includes the dissolution of the state, sortition and many other components. Again not what this article mainly about. At the time I found this article the only places where the term was used to describe "any political system which uses sortition as its main selection mechanism", was the website of Newid (now unfortunately owned by cybersquatters). All other sources using the term this way, as far as I can tell, were either inspired by this wikipedia article or by Newid (let me know if you know otherwise). What is more important, there is quite a bit of reasearch about what in this article is called demarchy (see for example [1]), but nobody ever uses this term, other than very rarely to refer to Burnheims proposal.

Even if we wanted to accept the definition, which I'm convinced is a mistake, it is enough to look at the two articles to see they are really covering the same ground. I suggest to try to create e new article out of the two and naming the result sortition. If it is then discovered that it would really become too long, we can always decide to put some section of it in their own article. I think the reason sortition got initially taken out was that it is a much more well understood concept, so certainly deserves its own article, only probably it just have been renamed. fela (talk) 18:02, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Interesting suggestion. I'd disagree because sortition focusses on the historical practice while demarchy focuses on a political theory that involves the practice as well as modern ideas like deliberative democracy, deliberative opinion polls, etc. In particular, I'd focus on making readers more aware that both articles exist, like by referring the history section of demarchy to sortition. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:34, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Hmm... I agree with Winkelmolen. Not because I've read and understood the contents, history or nuances of the Philosophical origins and historical practices of the two but because I hate looking at those messages at the top of Wiki pages. Rpm2004 (talk) 03:57, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
The article on demarchy should focus on Burnheim's influential work (small state, reduced bureaucracies, implementation of lottery/sortion), and other historical and present uses of the term demarchy. This article should have minimal content on random selection of decision makers and related topics; this all belongs in the article of sortition. Antoine Vergne’s survey of the literature (in "A Brief Survey of the Literature of Sortition." Delannoi, Gil and Oliver Dowlen. Sortition:Theory and Practice. Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2010. 69-87.) found that since 1956, there have been at least 199 texts up to 2008 that give active mention to the subject of sortition, and more than 350 writings when counting reprints, translations, etc. Let's not elevate Burnheim's work to the same level as this body of work on sortition. Mikedonovan2011 (talk) 21:17, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree that they should be merged. The Demarchy has almost no original content and is a weak shadow of the Sortation article. Right now there is poor interlinking between them and we might as well keep the articles together until they grow large enough to need splitting. However, I think Sortation should be merged into Demarchy - it's a more descriptive name (type of government) and fits in to government templates better. Vagary (talk) 22:44, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

primary sources and original research[edit]

I agree with the comments of TonyBallioni and Shabidoo. I've added the "primary sources" template, since most or all of the references come from proponents, rather than what Wikipedia is based on - secondary sources (WP:PRIMARY).

I also moved the "original research" template to the top, since much of the article is unreferenced, not just the section that had it, and it is an article-scope template. ★NealMcB★ (talk) 16:19, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

Athenian democracy[edit]

The third paragraph ends "Candidates were almost always male, Greek, educated citizens holding a minimum of wealth and status." but it's not clear whether these citizens were generally those holding *the* minimum of wealth and status (i.e. least wealthy and of lowest status) or those holding at least a minimum of wealth and status (i.e. some group consisting of the most wealthy and those of highest status). The latter seems more likely, but that's all the more reason to mention it if it really is the former. Lordandmaker (talk) 20:59, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

Songs of Distant Earth[edit]

In Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke, the futuristic society on Thalassa is ruled by demarchy.

...not so sure about this. As I recall, the government was described as having a technologically advanced form of direct democracy - a situation in which the figurehead President becomes ultimately somewhat irrelevant, so they opted for a random choice. Thoughts? --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 11:56, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Merging with "Stochocracy"[edit]

I knew this system under the name stochocracy. (As a side note, this is in fact in my view real democracy, as opposed to our theoretical system actually beeing aristocracy, government by elites, best & elected people --but this is another story.)

The point is that both terms are mostly synonym,as mentionned in the other article, thus why do both articles exist? Also note that en. article "demarchy" in fact correlates with "stochocracy" in other languages such as fr (fr:stochocratie). What about merging the 2 article into "demarchy" (as the article is more developped and the term seems better known --or less unknown-- in en.), and redirect from "stochocracy"?

denis 'spir' (talk) 20:31, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

We probably want separate articles for these different theoretical democracy models that get tightly linked together, along wiht stuff like deliberative democracy. If there is enough, then many demarchy could be a general page on the subject, and the different theories like stochocracy and practices like sortition could be linked. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:40, 9 April 2014 (UTC)