Choosing Representatives Randomly Might Serve Democracy Better



Improbable Research: Why Random Selection of MPs May be Best
The Guardian


The author highlights the findings of joint research by mathematicians and political scientists at the University of Catania into whether chosing politicians randomly achieves better results than those selected through conventional political processes.

The researchers used mathematical models to mimic the workings and decision-making processes of elected assemblies, which included the effect that political parties and their policy platforms had on legislation and policy outcomes

They then compared this to how decision-making in assemblies would work if elected representatives were chosen randomly, that is without party affiliation or allegiance.

They found that without such allegiances the number of laws passed was greater, as was ‘the average social welfare obtained' from these new laws.

The article’s author states that the processes of random selection suggested by the research is not unlike early forms of democracy in Athens when representatives were chosen via a public lottery:

'The maths indicate that parliaments work best when some – but not all – of the members have been chosen at random,' the author concludes.


Thumbnail image: Jo Christian Oterhals/Flickr



Marc Abrahams

The Guardian

Published Date
April 17, 2012