Improving Democracy


#1

According to article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all people have the right for real direct democracy. Now all countries in Europe work with an indirect democratic system where people can vote mostly only once per four years at parties who promise during election campaigns things people want. And when the election time is over they do other things than what people have voted for.

To make the democratic system work better in Europe all people in Europe must have the right to have a referendum about any subject they want.

To prevent to have to many requests for a referendum, people who want to have a referendum must collect first signatures of 1% of the people who live in their community or country (this depends for which level the referendum is mending to be held). For a referendum at European level people must collect one million signatures.

At the moment we see at European level that only the 28 not democratically selected people of the European Commission have the right to write law proposals and put these proposals at the agenda of the European parliament to vote for this. And the 750 democratically elected members of the European parliament have no right to take the initiatief to write a law proposals and put these at the agenda of the European parliament to vote abaut these proposals too. When we want Europe to be more democratic we have to change this point.


Police/Justice/Military section missing in the program
#2

The right way !
One million signatures at European level are, in my opinion, too much to ask. Also there you should stay with the 1% regulation. Then minorities are better protected. Governments quickly notice when they no longer serve the will of the citizens …


#3

Indeed to make the number of needed people not to much to ask,
we need to limit the 1% rule to some maximum (1 million?)
1% Whole Europe is 5.12 million people
1% Eurozone is 3.4 million people
1% Germany is 0.82 million people
1% Netherlands 0.17 million people

Or to find a better formula that is simple and give at all levels a reasonable number.

Another possible way is using the number of people who have the richt for voting per politician.
The number of people with voting richt per member of the EU parlement is 546,000.
The number of people with voting richt in NL per Dutch memer of the parlement is 87,000
And so an…


#4

I think (real direct) democracy means government of the people, by the people and for the people. The representative aspect is more a historic antagonism than a proven efficient way for it to work. And voting alone has never been democracy.

To the referendum-thing,

  • pro: It has the potential to veto bad laws, change political decisions, and otherwise influence government.
  • contra: There are too many important decisions and the effort for one referendum already exhausts participation.
  • (many more…)

What I’m getting at is that referendums are not enough and only treat a symptom of bad policy. Democracy includes judiciary, executive and legislative branches and right now (even with referendum) article 21 falls very much short of that. I would say we really need a constitution for Europe where a referendum would probably be part of the legislation. But what can you really say in a referendum? Yes/No to a question-that-was-carefully-drafted-to-represent-a-complex-issue-in-black-and-white… the issue is to put (direct) democracy equal to referendum and think the problem ends there.

Gonna stop here and hear what you say, my point is that we shouldn’t get lost in the details of how we could make a just referendum before it’s clear how democracy in Europe should practically work.

Edit: “Improving Democracy” as your title leads me to support the more radical approach for a European Constitution seeing as that is the foundation of a Democracy and Europe has none right now. Referendums would be a useful improvement within the current framework of the EU, but regardless of exact implementation difficult and exhausting to participate. Hell, yeah, I’m for them, I like participating :wink:


#5

Problem with real direct democracy is that people have to vote to many times per year and need to have knowlede about everything. The representative system is more efficnent to do, problem with this is that a small group of people (the politicians) work to much for a small special interest group.

To keep it simple I think the first step in improving the democracy is implementing in the constitution the right for referendum for any subject people want.

Till 12 July 2018 people in The Netherlands had a few years the right for referendum, only for a small part of the new laws the governement has made. Because the politicans in The Netherlands don’t want democracy they changed this law, so now we only can have fake elections every four years…


#6

The stupid thing is that we are too slow, 3 weeks since the first post on the subject until today. That will be Europe 3000 …


#7

HansG, Im afraid you are right we are to slow or…


#8

On “NEW DEAL FOR DEMOCRACY”, I.3: Considering the fact that it is fundamental idea of our transnational movement to tear down the massive influence of member states, some in Vienna DSC1 considered the 25%-participation of member-state-governments as too high. DSC1 stated that before when discussing the DiEM25 policy paper.


#9

Hi all. Voting requires information, even more so: factual & sourced, qualified and quantified information.
In the era of fake news, this is more critical than ever.
Also, relative information (matters connected to the matter of interest) about any discussed complex topic should be available for a comprehensive understanding and reasoned decision. Traditionally, this is the role of the Press, yet the job is - understandingly - limited and opinionated. I believe we demand a bit more.

I support direct democracy, yet thinking long about it did pop-up plenty of questions, boiling down to this critical aspect: open unbiased information is key. So this led me to create an online project to tackle that.
My reply in this thread is not to promote this project, rather to share my conclusion on direct democracy. However if any of you is curious, I would gladly provide the URL to the project page.

Hoping this participation is constructive.


#10

Adding to your thoughts @Frederic_D, I think information can even replace voting and is the only true political force. Ideas shape our world. The stories we tell each other that are most convincing build up ideologies, religions and the order we live in. It makes sense that bad and manipulative information leads to misguided and flawed movements and popular success - that ends in tragic real world failure.

So yes, information is key. A terrible education system and a censored press are what we live in. I wouldn’t call that democracy. That’s what it calls itself, doesn’t make it so. But I also see the upside: When we talk to people, explaining the ethics of climate change, argue the cost-benefit of traffic noise or just ask them how they feel - then that is the most powerful political, democratic thing we can do. And when we manage the trust and transparency to cover even disputed and difficult topics that have no simple and guaranteed solution, then we have the blueprint for what democracy is.

We can find our implicit or spoken mini-constitutions in conversation with friends, family and foes. There are feudalistic summonings, communist gatherings, anarchist parties, but when problems arise and decisions need to be taken - democratic decisions have the best results and the least side-effects. Curiously, no matter the form of process - information is key to any good political process. Seems obvious, right? :smiley:

In the end, I think we have to realize that every one of us is right in the middle of the battle for our future. We have eyes to see - but we look away, ears to hear - but we don’t really listen. That’s biased information, very selective, incomplete self-manipulation. When faced with issues like gay marriage or whatever provocative or absurd political agenda you can think of - we stop thinking for ourselves and let us be controlled by TV or Twitter. That’s absurd - the easy and effective way to process the information we get is wired into our brain - physically! Put yourself into the position of the affected, both sides. Learn to use your empathy. You will be able to judge even complex problems very accurately. And if you make a mistake in judgement - as everyone does - well, you are not alone, and mistakes is how we learn. Decide and act. Even if the act is only sharing your conclusions with someone else, giving a stranger a warm welcome or save a bee from drowning.

How we process what we see is our own personal legislative chamber - how we act on our convictions is our executive force - what we do with our mistakes is our judiciary branch. Politics is our live, small-scale politics true, but look at yourself and you see the flaws that taint global interactions. Take the first step to a better future: Improve yourself, wake up, take the red pill, start living to your full potential!


#11

A foreword.
The current state of the matter is we have no direct democracy today. Allegedly - and from the top of my mind - indirect democracy could be improved with:

  • Accountability of representatives (through vote revoking, proof of efforts, etc.);
  • stronger counter powers (balanced number of deputies in the assembly, petition-based legislation, …)

Yet, none of this is likely to happen from current European Union because State representatives have tight-locked the role of European citizens. So having taken the red pill long ago, and started taking matter in my own hands with various approaches, I created a project for collaborative decision making, putting quality data first.

Quality information.
So data/information is not to be confused with ideas (nor opinions) and their supporting political storytelling.
I believe we can ask more to democracy than managing trust and transparency. Isn’t analytical reasoning encompassing both trust and transparency? Why not trying to make it a distributed process across all interested citizens? And, to get to my original point: why not designing software that lays the framework for discussion & reasoning, also enforcing the open and unbiased nature of the information dealt with?
Hence the need to tackle the data collection and qualification process, and only then, also suggest a collective decision process. Let’s keep humans in control…

Collaboration.
I don’t think “information can replace voting” as democracy is about managing people’s conflicting ideas/opinions: even with comprehensive knowledge, opinions, sensitivities and cultures are managed with policies.
This is neither about agreeing information is key while talking to FFF and other groups, it’s a matter of scale (number of people involved) and accessibility of their detailed analysis - again not their opinions. Let’s allow transparent massive participation for policies to be explicit, only then can a truly democratic decision take place.
In effect, many of us concede our conscious decision process is biased, Brain Research listed so many traps (cognitive bias) affecting one’s thought process, that we know we can’t leave important decisions to a few people. Not only they’ll ignore various aspects important to groups excluded from said decision, but the smaller the group, the more sensitive it is to cognitive biases.

To conclude,
I believe democracy is a question of how many diverse people can participate in analyzing and proposing detailed ideas based on robust information to establish a reasoned distributed thinking framework. Getting closer to a collective opinion-proof solution if you will. I’m not naive enough to think such a tool would work for everyone, but at least it would help people putting reasoned decision first.

Thus the collective effort is not about participating in ongoing talks about democracy, but rather working actively for the availability of true democratic processes, be it with software.
That’s why I welcome any feedback and discussion about my project but also am looking for people that have the time, willpower and skill to act - as I do - so that visions get shared and put in motion with a digital approach for current and new digital generations.


#12

I wish to add three points to the discussion:

  1. European Spring should advocate that EU citizens participate in the administrative and political elections in their country of residence, rather than in the country whose citizenship they hold.
  2. Democracy does not mean and should not mean that the citizens have a direct say on each and every topic.
  3. Politicians should be voted by direct election and not being nominated by their party

Let me elaborate on the reasons:

Political voting rights should be exercised at the place of residence, which currently is not the case for those Europeans living in another European country. Current rule is: for administrative elections (city council, major) voting rights are assigned on the basis of residence; for political elections (national or EU parliament, regional parliament) voting rights are assigned on the basis of citizenship.

This creates a two-class citizenship of those who can express a political vote and those who cannot or can do so only in a country they do not live in. Not having political voting rights creates an emotional disenchantment from democratic processes.

Since the early 1990s, European universities have increasingly fostered international partnerships, and Erasmus has become a standard for many students, this has increased pan-European exchange, and those who thanks to such student exchanges have become true European citizens suffer particularly from current trends towards regionalization. The Schengen Agreement allows and encourages pan-European people movement, and not aligning the move ability of political voting rights to actual people’s movement means a half finished product with strange distortions. You may say that this is pure theoretical and marginal problem. It is not. The foreign population in almost all EU countries is 10% or above, which means 10% or more are precluded from expressing a political vote. As an example: in my family, for a number of political elections in UK, Germany and Italy over more than 10 years, out of six adults (my sister and her husband, my wife’s brother and his wife, my wife and I) only one (!) held political voting rights in her country of residence. It is true that this can be overcome by acquiring the host country’s citizenship; but this takes time, and leads to unnecessary complexity once the person changes residence to another country or back to its country of origin.

The main risk to democracy is if democracy leads to poor decisions. Normally, a group of people has a potential to make better decisions than any even so smart single individual, that’s why teamwork is good. Yet, one of the worst things to happen is democracy in the battlefield: you cannot vote always on everything. That is why the most effective way to block an organization is creating a committee for every little problem.

Therefore, direct democracy with continuous voting on every little thing is the death of democracy. An example is the recent discussion on whether maintaining or not summer time: a vote of less than 1% of voters drives the discussion and is advocated by the EU president. Is this the form of democracy we want?

Or shouldn’t rather those that are voted to represent any portion of voters be accountable towards their voters? I believe this is the most important aspect of democracy, which means that politicians should battle in their electoral home for votes, and not be named by their party on the basis of a vote given to a party. If we can have this, we do not need as many options for referenda.

One last comment on @Hans_v:

According to article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all people have the right for real direct democracy.

Probably this is a case of lost in translation: art 21 does not prescribe direct democracy but states that each citizens has a right to participate directly (i.e. being elected) or through elected representatives (i.e. voting for someone) in the government of his or her country.


#13

Be careful! Look at the Irish experience of referenda, especially on EU issues. We rejected two EU treaties (Lisbon and Nice), thus blocking their implementation across Europe. So, we had a second referendum to ‘encourage’ people to give the ‘correct’ answer…

People vote with their hearts the first time and use the referendum to give their national government a good kicking on matters completely unrelated to the referendum’s subject. There is usually a lot of misleading information and biased opinion thrown around, It is only when this is seen as such that people vote with their brains - the second time! Do you really want to bog down the ‘democratic’ process with endless referenda?


#14

For more direct democracy, we need to reduce the size of the political area.

I strongly believe that the bigger countries need to be broken up, Germany, France, Spain, the UK if they stayed in, etc, into their Regions.

Remove the national level of government and have the EU, with a directly elected Parliament proposing legislation. And directly under the EU, the Regions/Smaller Nations.

I also think the Swiss Model could work for an EU structured in this way.

I realise that Referenda can have “negative” outcomes but that is the nature of democracy.

We can discuss the methodologies used by countries like Ireland and Switzerland in their referenda to build a rule-system for referenda in the EU and its regions.


#15

Whilst we are busy discussing structuers and methodology we are being ruled by unelected technocrats heading the European Comission who in turn controle the all powerful European Central Bank. Did anyone vote Wolfgang Schaüble or Joeren Dijselbloem or Martin Selmayr into the positions they hold on the European Commission? These are the people imposing austerity monetary policy on all the nations of Europe.

Before trying to create a new system I think we should make sure our present leaders are made publicly accountable for their acts and do this for the coming elections for which time is short.


#16

At this moment are no voting rights for foreigners and migrants on a European or national level. I mean foreigners and migrants as being non-EU citizens. They have no active nor passive voting rights, neither on national, nor on European level. You apparently handle them as totally non-existing. They have no political rights at all in the view and they are not mentioned in the current manifesto European Spring 2019.

But according to the International convention on civil and political rights, they should have the samen voting rights, being inhabitants of a county or the European Union as such.

All inhabitants of Europe have the right to participate in (secret) elections with an open discussion on who to elect as their legislative power. Parliament, regional and local council have those legislative powers, they have the power to establish and proclaim laws and regulations.
This political right is also written down in the additional protocol of the European convention on human rights.

The European Council and European Parliament still block the ratification of this human rights convention. They European politicians in Brussel refuse by all means to grant civil and political rights to EU-citizens, as well as non-EU-citizens, who live in the European Union, and the United Kingdom.


#17

Sorry, but here:

you are talking EURO-Group, not Commission. You are right in so far as the Euro-Group has no basis in the treaties and therefore should simply not exist.