With Rodan Bury and Charly Pache I discuss their initiative to inaugurate a Citizens’ Chamber in the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland. The idea of the Citizens’ Chamber is to complement the existing unicameral parliament with topic-specific citizens’ assemblies, for which members are selected by sortition. Rather than being a permanent chamber of the same citizens, the proposed Citizens’ Chamber consists of a number of citizens’ assemblies that would convene for several months to deliberate and legislate on specific political issues. The goal of the Citizens’ Chamber is to enable citizens to directly participate in legislative processes, to deal with controversial topics, to include the many different perspectives of citizens, while most day-to-day political negotiations would still be dealt with by the elected parliament. It would thus be a complement both to representative and direct democratic institutions.
Rodan and Charly are part of a committee that tries to institutionalize the Citizens’ Chamber through a popular initiative to be approved at the ballot box by a popular vote, as it asks for a change of the cantonal constitution. The initiative was submitted to the government of the Canton of Vaud a few months ago. The State Council that reviews initiatives rejected the proposal however, arguing that the proposition clashes with regulations in the federal constitution. The initiative committee appealed to the decision, and so currently Rodan and Charly are awaiting a decision on their appeal by the responsible court.
Rodan Bury works as an occupational therapist, and he is the coordinator of the initiative of the Citizens’ Chamber and is passionate about community and bottom-up democratic approaches. He is trained to facilitate and coordinate citizens’ assemblies, and a public speaker and advocate for democracy.
Charly Pache holds a degree in management information technology and a master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship. He has worked on numerous prospective projects involving organizational elements of tomorrow’s society. The way of working is one of them. He is also involved with participatory democracy and self-empowering, equal opportunities and diversity.
References to books, papers, and other contributions:
- Blue Democracy: The Citizens’ Chamber in the Canton of Vaud (Proposal)
- Follow Rodan Bury’s activities at the non-partisan movement AG!ISSONS (Let’s act) (in French), on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Follow Charly Pache on LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Dimitri Courant, researcher of deliberative democracy and citizens’ assemblies
- Legislature by Lot: Transformative Designs for Deliberative Governance by John Gastil and Erik Olin Wright, 2019, Verso Books
- The Real Utopias Project
- Against Elections by David Van Reybrouck, 2018, Penguin Random House
- Network Beyond Elections
- Democracy R&D
- TedX Talk by Charly Pache: Make Democracy Great Again
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