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Experiment in Belgium: When citizens drawn at random suddenly have a say


In a region in eastern Belgium, 50 out of 76,000 inhabitants were drawn to make politics. The result is amazing.

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Lay politician Duyckaerts: "Always moaning is not good"

Photo: Marcus Simaitis / DER SPIEGEL

Gerard Duyckaerts' suit hung in the closet unused for two years.

Duyckaerts bought it for his son's wedding: gray fabric, a pleat - too precious to be worn in everyday life.

The 70-year-old used to drive trucks around Europe and melt metal in a factory, and when he retired seven years ago life seemed to have little in store that required a suit.

Up to one day in January 2020.

Duyckaerts has just returned from a shift as a bus driver, so he is improving his pension.

He goes to the mailbox and finds a letter in it that will change him.

"Dear fellow citizen, Parliament has drawn lots for you." He, Duyckaerts, was to become a member of a citizens' assembly.

He could then "have a direct influence on East Belgian politics."

50 out of 76,000 residents were drawn to have a say in what money is spent on

Duyckaerts, a being so honest and direct that one could mistake it for harshness, thinks the writing is a joke.

He dropped out of school at the age of 15, he doesn't read the newspaper and rarely watches TV.

Should he decide on politics?

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Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2020-12-01

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