House supports Climate Assembly, but government falls

Submitted by webmaster on Thu, 27-07-2023 - 20:02

The biggest sortition news is undoubtedly that the government and parliament have finally decided to organize a national-level citizens' assembly. It's not the first national citizens' assembly ever held, the citizens' assembly on the voting system that was held in 2006, was its predecessor, although few people know about this assembly.

The bad news is that the citizens' assembly that is now planned, has severe flaws. The citizens that are to be drafted by lot, will have to answer the question: "How can we, Dutch citizens, consume food, use goods, and travel, in a way that is better for the climate?". Although this question is very much in line with the Dutch Consumers Association's call for a citizens' assembly on nutrition, it's a very limited question, and does not really address the bigger issues related to climate change. Another concern was that the assembly was to take place just before the upcoming House elections, but since the government has fallen in early July, it's not even sure the climate assembly will take place at all; that will be decided in September.

That the government has fallen, in the end on the topic of refugees and migration, shows the crisis of the representative system itself, but that is noted by few. There are some exceptions though. The well-informed anonymous Twitter account Haagse Insider (The Hague is the seat of government), expressed that "the current system is no longer up to the mark". More notably, Peter de Waard, columnist for one of the main Dutch newspapers de Volkskrant, wrote (translated): "Maybe the current system no longer works in a time of fragmentation and lack of political interest. (...) Cultural historian David van Reybrouck spoke of the democratic fatigue syndrome in his essay that was published ten years ago. The decline in political potency and public support implies that a choice must be made for a system that was used long ago in cities like Athens, Venice, and Florence. About six councils should be instated, populated by citizens drafted by lot, with checks and balances among them, to propose laws, vote on them, and supervise the legislature. Maybe that would confine the mess."

Last part of Peter de Waard's column in de Volkskrant, July 2023