Let’s suppose you are an elected council member and you want to realise this. How to proceed? There is no procedure laid out for you, but at least in the Netherlands there are no formal obstacles. You do have to take the initiative though!
- Write the job descriptions for the eldermen. This is good to do anyway, because anyone can then compare your dream candidate with what you will actually get. Also when a traditional coalition takes place with eldermen chosen in an untransparent way.
- Publish the job descriptions online and send out a press release about it. The news story should be what we wish for in the eldermen and what we eventually get. Again, even when the traditional path is taken, the news story can be about how it compares to the profile for the candidate.
- Ask the other parties to publish their own versions of the job descriptions. Also the parties involved in the coalition should have an answer to the question what their profile is. Opening up at this stage makes them more accountable. If they refuse to answer this when journalists ask about this will make them look secretive.
- Once the profiles are published, they have to be merged into profiles acceptable to all. A perfect compromise in which only those requirements survive the majority of parties are in favour of.
- Applicants to the vacancies should have their anonimity assured until the last moment. You could have them apply anonymously describing their job history in the most general terms. Attention seekers will claim publicly they have applied for the job, but make sure to not release any information about the applicants. Especially the good applicants might be damaged if their intention become public before they have an actual chance to get the job. The attention seekers meanwhile will fuel the discussion on which applicants are good, what the requirements are.
- The coaltion partners are meanwhile negotiating behind closed doors, but with the alternative discussed publicly, the pressure on the outcome of this process increases. It might even become part of the negotiation. The weaker party has an alternative to being asked by the ‘winner’ of the elections. Together with the opposition they might form a coalition on this process. They loose the chance to propose their own eldermen in the coalition, but on the other hand others will not get their own either.
- Once a majority of the council prefers this model to a traditional coalition the applicants are asked if they would like to reveal their identity. Possibly first only behind closed doors to representatives for each party in the council, but ultimately in a public hearing.
- The public hearing should be as public as possible, preferably with live television or at least webcast. Questions for the applicants will be about which policy they think will find support from a majority, but also on their expert knowledge and how transparant they work. This is the moment to demonstrate their communication skills and openness in decision making.