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Can local government by lottery increase democratic responsiveness?

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Joseph DrewUniversity of Technology, Australia and Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan

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In recent years, scholars have paid significant attention to the role of decentralisation in restraining government power and budgetary excess. Yet growth in taxation and debt in OECD countries suggests that such measures have often had a limited effect in taming ‘local Leviathans’. In response, this Research Provocation sets out a bold alternative vision, advocating the use of sortition – the deliberate introduction of arationality and chance into local policy decisions – in order to disrupt ingrained power imbalances and enhance democratic participation. It argues that sortition has the potential to provide for greater possibilities for citizens to exercise voice, choice and exit. This in turn, it is argued, can ensure that local government is more responsive to the preferences of ordinary citizens. In making this provocative argument, we offer an important contribution to debates regarding citizen disengagement, democratic malaise and the potential of more deliberative forms of democracy to address such challenges.

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Joseph DrewUniversity of Technology, Australia and Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan

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