Choosing the Head of State in a parliamentary republic is a contradictory endeavour. Said kind of republic stays in a smallish number of countries. Yes, it flourishes in such an important system as Germany, with the ancillary context of Austria, then in some fifteen nations of Europe. Most Latin-American systems are modelled after the United States, the foremost among presidential republics; there the head of state leads the government too. So in non-parliamentary systems the popular vote elects a very relevant officer, who fully heads the Executive branch of government.
In a parliamentary republic the President (First Citizen) is the adjourned version of a constitutional (non-absolute) monarch, the one who reigns but doesn’t govern. He is a hybrid statesman who is not supposed to lead the majority party or coalition, so he can counterbalance the head of government (in case of need even topple him). Usually he is a high ranking but not dominant politician, who is prestigious enough as to be elected, however not in control of the political scene. The present First Citizen of Italy (Giorgio Napolitano) is exceptionally influential because of special circumstances. At 88, he will probably leave in a few months -this being the reason why here we deal with his office.
Not to have to choose this kind of president (i.e. a republican term-monarch) is one of the reasons why so many modern and advanced nations such as Japan, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Danemark, Netherland, Belgium, Luxemburg stick to the hereditary monarchy. Nowaday such hereditary monarchy is of course a perfectly illogical istitution, in view of the inferior quality of so many kings and queens of history. But those countries detest elected presidents.
In parliamentary Italy the perfect preconditions are given, theoretically, so that sortition should prevail as the way to choose a First Citizen:
a) our republic is demonstrably the worst political mechanism in the Western world. Changing it is imperative -most oligarchic politicians admit, or pretend to admit, this;
b) Italy is presently governed by a very brilliant, young (39) “turboPremier”, named Matteo Renzi. He has already proved to possess the will and the capability to radically renovate, even revolutionize the institutions. He undertook to abolish the Senate as a true chamber of Parliament.
We should reconsider the political role of great personalities against, say, the role of the collective will or of the Zeitgeist. Prophet Mohammed was able to invert history alone -his Islam transformed the disconnected, primitive, predatory tribes of Arabia into an imperial nation and into a great civilization. In our time a strongwilled Italian statesman could make the difference for sortition, should he decide to renege representative democracy. The combination on said preconditions might convince the Italian oligarchs to let a domineering Premier to introduce sortition, if only to select a First Citizen. Otherwise, in the absence of somebody resembling Mohammed, many decades will be needed for sortition to win.
Perfect parity among citizens to be sorted is impossible, given the chance that the lot chooses a simpleton or a criminal, or an otherly unqualified person. Therefore sortition should inevitably involve a restricted number of first-class citizens. For instance, if all of them were university principals, high judges or top administrators, nobody could oppose that the president choosen by lot were an ignorant.
However, we are dreaming. The chances are minimal that prime minister Renzi will decide to break the rules concerning the choice of the head of state. Other priorities will prevail. Sortition can only follow the utter discredit of entrenched habits, institutions, political climate and culture. Robber oligarchs must decide to accept the cancellation of representative democracy. Up to that moment their caste will go on bargaining the choice of heads of state who either are professional politicians or are coopted in the caste. Going to sortition can only be a Copernican revolution.
A.M.Calderazzi and Associates of www. Internauta online