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Québec inherited a political system modelled on British Parliamentarism with the Constitutional Act of 1791. The voting system in use in all of Canada's 11 parliaments is known as first-past-the-post and is arguably the worst way to elect the members of a body of representation.

As if the electoral system wasn't flawed enough by itself, a careful study of how Athenian democracy really worked in the details reveals that elections have little to do with democracy and that in fact the majority of the magistrates were taken by lot among volunteer citizens!

Elective oligarchy, aka "representative democracy"

The constitution of a legitimate body of representation responsible for the adoption of laws and surveillance of the executive is the central problem to solve in systems of government some had the arrogance (or ignorance) to label "democratic" on the sole account of one of its feature, the universal suffrage for the election of representatives. It is wiser to consider that democracy is still a target, that we have not gotten there yet and must continue to work for its realization within our contemporary societies. As a system, democracy cannot be reduced to one feature "democratic" elections.

The careful study of voting theory allows citizens to understand why, in Western regimes, they have for a long time been getting the feeling that voting every 4-5 years rarely resulted in the popular voice making it all the way to government officials' ears. That is because making elections serve the purpose of democratic government is as difficult as corruption is easy.

The Athenians

The principles of the Athenian system of government were isonomia (equality of share), isegoria (equality of speech), isocratia (equality of rule) and isogonia (equality of birth). Most public offices were not elective. The places were filled by citizens above the age of 30 who were selected by lot.

Since we are all equal citizens, no one among us deserves to rule more than the others. Ideally, there would be no rulers at all. But we need some rulers for the organization of the city, so we will pick them at random among ourselves and we will all have an equal chance to be the ruler for a short period. "To rule and be ruled in turn." That is the logic of designation by lot, one of the main characteristics of democracy according to Aristotle.

Will the proper use of designation by lot make a triumphant return in our systems of government?