Randomly Selected Leaders May Make Politics More Efficient

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Injecting randomly selected politicians into legislatures could create a more efficient political process, according to a group of scientists.

In a research project, a team led by Alessandro Pluchino from the University of Catania in Italy and colleagues discovered that when they added independent politicians to the mix in their simulations, more laws passed and average societal welfare increased.

But why favor randomly assigning positions rather than being elected?

Looking closer, the researchers’ model views legislators as possessing both personal and public interests. In the simulation, legislators hypothetically possess two rights: to propose a piece of legislation and voting in favor of or against a given proposal.

Crafting legislation isn’t necessarily restricted by party, whereas voting rights usually are constrained by party goals, the authors say.

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They used the model in different simulations, where each party had varying degrees of power. Injecting independents into the mix increased the legislature’s performance in all simulations, the authors write.

Ultimately, the findings do not support getting rid of democratic elections altogether, but rather suggest adding random members to legislatures based on political imbalances between parties.

The authors say their system focuses on current structures of parliaments, but can be expanded to other types of legislatures as well.

The research also draws inspiration from Carlo M. Cipolla, a historian who created a diagram that generalizes people into four areas: Intelligent, Helpless/Naïve, Bandit-like and Stupid.

Keep in mind the model doesn’t categorize legislators in these areas as people, but rather in their approaches for public good as a legislator.

The work received an award from the Ig Nobel, which acknowledges unique projects that seem comical at first, but are though-provoking as well.

Would America be better off with randomly selected officials? What do you think?

Photo: Jupiterimages

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