( A Fifteen-minute read)
If we are to discuss the best model for democracy we should first look at the British system as it is the longest established.
Questions arise however when you consider its relevance to the modern world.
The Houses of Parliament have long been known as ‘the mother of parliaments’ and historically form the basis for democratic government across the world. Much of the British system, however, is seen as outdated.
The UK is said to have a democracy with power resting with the people but granted to their elected representatives but this only applies to the House of Commons. The other parts of the Constitution – the Crown and the House of Lords – are hereditary and appointed.
It’s not surprising that a system so outdated, and so stilted by generations of gerrymandering and ever-increasing campaign spending, results in public policies that do little to address the fundamental interests of most citizens.
Anyone can see when looking at the referendum (that voted by a small majority to leave the European Union) that direct democracy was stimulated by stagnant wages, rising inequality and unaccountable elites benefiting from repeated government bailouts all functions of a larger and more systemic problem.
However, the current crop of populist leaders and parties may be the forerunner to even more worrying politics — but they could also be the spark for a much-needed overhaul of the basic architecture of democratic government.
So let’s ask the question why and should we be worried about democracy?
Do we need a reset button not just in the Uk but throughout the whole of the democratic world?
The turn to populism, the call for nonsensical direct democracy and the recourse to binary choices – whether in the form of referenda or general elections – all come from the failure of party politics, which is nurtured everywhere by unrepresentative parliamentary democracy.
Representation democracy requires a filtering process and preselection of candidates by parties performed this role in today’s Elections which are geographically based for obvious practical reasons.
But people are no longer bound to – and are less inclined to – identify geographically within the borders of a nation-state.
Our institutions of democracy and government are simply not designed to deal with unfettered financial capital flows across national borders and the tolerance, if not active encouragement, of the free mass movement and migration of people.
With technology such as electronic voting the individual you want to see elected might be based in the next county or the other end of the country, and then you cannot (now) vote for them. Or your vote goes wasted because of the make-up of the constituency you are resident in.
It is now perfectly feasible, in principle, for everyone to vote for an individual they believe in, rather than for the least bad candidate, and for no vote ever to go wasted.
This is possible without recourse not just to political parties, but though citizens group-think tanks that could retain a subsidiary role to analyze what is being presented and remove social media that is clogging up the political processes with falshoods.
Let there be separate assemblies for the several grand areas of political concern. For example, a citizens assembly to address ethical concerns. A pressure group uniting people of religion and of no-religion in dialogue.
It could handle the beginning and the end of life; the wisdom or otherwise of tolerating drug abuse; the way we treat animals; which limits we may want to place on religious freedoms and parental rights, climate change
Using secure electronic voting one selects one’s choice candidate from the many thousands standing via a search function at the polling station.
Forget party lists.
Forget proportional representation (which serves party hacks rather than strong-minded individuals).
Forget alternative votes and second rounds.
For the election, a candidate needs a predetermined number of votes.
Those falling far short of the threshold hold a political power of attorney from their supporters to transfer their contingent to a like-minded candidate closer to the threshold.
What is surprising is that the people whose interests have been so clearly neglected for so long feel they have no choice but to back candidates who are so clearly flawed or conflicted.
What is needed in our democracies is a call to manage financial and people flows in ways that do not exceed our social political and economic systems capability to evolve on an even keel.
A call to not incentivise the separation of finance from real economies, or the short term hot trade, or governments and criminal gangs who profit from people trafficking.
A call to do away with just a lip service democracy.
A call to admit from the start our fallibility as human beings, which leads us to accept that a discussion can not reach a consensus, and we should use the vote as a force.
A call to use technology not just to enrich the rich but to enhance all our lives. We cant have both.
A call to get rid of the hypocrisy of the imbalance at the centre of our political systems which those who are empowered by the current system will not change.
The only thing that can change our political system is pressure from the outside.
We are all now living in a technological digital driven world
Nowadays, democracy is unfortunately seen as inevitable; in other words, it is the political system no one dares to question and even less making it publicly.
1. Rule by the people, especially as a form of government; either directly or through elected representatives (representative democracy).
2. A government under the direct or representative rule of the people of its jurisdiction.
3. Belief in political freedom and equality; the “spirit of democracy”.
The term democracy comes from the Greek language and means “rule by the (simple) people”.
The essential elements of democracy: separation of powers, basic civil rights / human rights, religious liberty and separation of church and state.
Brexiters tell us that the EU is run by faceless bureaucrats.
But the truth is that all EU laws can only be passed by the democratically elected European Parliament, in concert with the Council of Ministers, that comprise the ministers of democratically elected governments of EU member states.
In the age of the internet and biometrics that we could and should be able to vote directly on policies which shape are lives.
The representative system is antiquated.
The internet can be used to inform the all citizens of the issues, and collect all the votes.
Rebuilding the political system cannot be left to politicians – the public need to have a role .In a political environment where we’re told our only role is to vote every few years, directly engaging the public in redesigning our democracy is a radical step that must be taken before democracy disappears into an algorithm.
Twitter is alive with political chat.
We can’t afford to take a chance on an undemocratic system that has failed us so greatly and so often.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.