Posted 1 year ago on March 19, 2012, 10:28 a.m. EST by Demoskratos
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
This is the basis of a manifesto in Scotland/UK, for others to build upon and improve the central idea. Much of it is specific to the UK/European political sphere, however, the basic idea of using the internet/smartphone apps to establish a movement based on direct democracy (hence Referenda) is still fundamentally applicable to the USA. It is doing the rounds on UK occupy sites.
Have a read and work on it together to hopefully put it into practice once the necessary infrastructure has been aligned.
Referenda Manifesto (Preliminary draft)
The original concept of democracy when established in ancient Athens was simple. One man has one vote, and thereby all important laws and decisions were made. This was known as ‘Direct Democracy’.
In the year 2012, however, Direct Democracy for all accounts and purposes does not exist in the UK. Aside from the occasional referendum which on average happens every 30 years or so, the general public have no direct say on any matter, but instead vote for people to represent their views on their behalf. The result, of this – and undoubtedly other factors thrown in – is widespread voter apathy, a distinct lack of interest in politics, and a great distrust of politicians drawn from a small cross-section of society.
Furthermore, we see democracy across Europe being destroyed by the German led hegemony which essentially imposes an unelected government on both Italy and Greece – the later having self defeating austerity measures which have brought the country to its knees and threaten at any time to ignite a social time bomb, all to protect the ideology of the single European currency and ever more political, economic integration.
We live in an unusual age where there is a working coalition government between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in Westminster. While some understand that sacrifices have to be made by both parties in order to govern effectively, great swathes of the general public cannot comprehend that they vote for a party that categorically states in their manifesto that they will not raise tuition fees (Liberal Democrats), and then goes on to agree to raise them to a maximum of £9000 per annum. There are examples across the spectrum of promises being broken: Labour and their promises of electoral and House of Lords reform; the Conservatives and the Lisbon Treaty, to name but a few. Politicians regularly break promises because of the workings of the political system under which they operate. This is not a necessity, and can be entirely avoided with the restoration of Direct Democracy.
The UK is politically stagnant. Bereft of original ideas and opportunity. An astounding proportion of MPs are either Etonian or just generally white, public schooled and male. Millions of people live in constituencies that are regarded as ‘safe seats’ where many do not even bother to vote as it is simply wasted. There is due to be a referendum on changing the electoral system from First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) to a form of Alternative Vote (AV) where candidates are listed in order of preference. While broadly in favour of this as it will be more representative, both systems are inherently flawed, with FPTP restricting us to only two real alternatives and AV allowing candidates that no-one particularly wanted being elected.
The Referenda Manifesto sets out an alternative to both of these systems. The reason democracy became ‘representative’ was a matter of logistics. How, with a population of over 60m could so many people cast a vote directly? The answer is they, practically speaking, could not. Only Switzerland stands out with its frequently held referendums as the nearest exception to this rule.
We believe that with the reliable technology at our disposal today, and the great advances that have been made in communication, it is now possible to return to an age of direct democracy. No longer shall MPs be lobbied by business interests, trade unions and wealthy donors to vote to according to their benefit. No longer, will backhand deals be made across dimly lit, cigar-laden rooms.
Our proposal is simple:
We use the mechanisms of representative democracy that are already in place, to gradually build up support for our cause, reinvigorate interest in political life and make people responsible for their actions.
• Using the internet, if voted into power in a constituency, each constituent who is eligible shall be registered with a unique constituent number, and chose their password and other memorable security information, in a fashion similar to those seen using Lloyds TSB, Halifax or HSBC internet banking, for example. • Alternative arrangements shall be made to register a vote via a method similar to telephone banking for those unable or willing to use internet banking. • Smartphone apps can be created allowing people to vote in a simple, accessible manner, providing a summary of the arguments, and links to sites that offer more detail for those who want it. • Finally, people should be able to come to their local Referenda office to register a vote, and plans will be drawn up for people to also have the opportunity to vote by visiting their local post office.
Each motion that is brought before parliament in the current fashion, shall be made public (excluding exceptional circumstances) one month before the vote until 2 hours before the vote is due in the House of Commons. During this time, each constituent will have the opportunity to register their vote. The result is simple: if over 50% of those who have voted are in favour or against, then the Referenda MP for that constituency shall vote accordingly.
For those who use the internet/apps to register their vote: arguments for and against each motion shall be available on the website for users to make a best informed decision. A panel of experts from each subject are can also have the opportunity to register what they believe the right outcome should be if there is an overall consensus. Ultimately, however, the decision shall belong to each individual in the constituency.
If citizens do not feel they have the knowledge to make an informed decision, they can have the option of allowing a panel of experts in the given field to vote on their behalf.
The Referenda party is not politically affiliated, but rather is a coming together of individuals across all backgrounds – cultural, religious, racial and political – with a shared believe in restoring real liberty to the sensible and overwhelmingly good people of these islands.
Criticisms will vary of these plans, but do not be fooled. Everything will come back to one central argument: do you believe that you as an individual, should have the opportunity to cast your vote as much as any other man or woman in this country? Or would you rather have some elite do it for you because they supposedly know better than you do? For Referenda: all humans are born free and equal. But to parody George Orwell: currently, some humans are born more free and more equal than others.
There will be many criticisms of these plans by those elites which have a vested interest in the status quo, but the heart of our belief is that the people of the United Kingdom are an intelligent people. We are not stupid, and we do not need to be told right from wrong by people who often have very little life experience outside of parliaments and their own small cluster of acquaintances.
Here are a list of just a few potential criticisms Referenda may face: