|Abstract (English)|| |
This paper revisits John Stuart Mill’s famous proposal for plural voting, according to which universal suffrage is conjoined with the possibility for some to claim and utilise multiple votes if they meet a particular set of qualifications. We observe the proposal in the light of Mill’s own historical context, but we also evaluate it with respect to the changing social and political conditions that ensued. Surely, the proposal faces criticisms in both contexts taken separately, but some of the previously prominent objections retain their force, while others recede in contemporary circumstances. Accordingly, for instance, the paper recognises the force of the objection that the educated experts who are to hold multiple votes are difficult to identify with the ideal of quality decision-making and the common good in mind, but rejects dated assumptions such as that of the overwhelming strength of class bias or the predominantly class-based motivations for social grouping. Most importantly, although the paper ultimately rejects Mill’s plural voting proposal, it supports his attempt to incorporate experts into quality democratic decision-making, and investigates the practical forms of their inclusion. First, we outline the plural voting proposal in the context in which it initially arose. Second, we introduce the first objections to plural voting according to which such a mechanism undermines the educative role that Mill sets for democracy. Third, we discuss the problem of who the handlers of multiple votes – the “educated” – are supposed to be, their class background, the expertise required, and the strength of underlying class biases. Fourth, we look at the different stages of the political decision-making process, in search of possible remedies for the problems brought about by plural voting. Fifth, we assess some of the assumptions underlying Mill’s proposal in light of contemporary society. In summary, we argue for the rejection of the plural voting scheme, but we discuss alternative ways of including experts in the decision-making process.