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Electoral Reform


Most elections  today ultimately result in small changes in the life of the ordinary citizen. The faces of the politicians may change, some egos will be bruised while some will be boosted but in the end the big questions related to the cost effectiveness and quality of government services will not be answered in any conclusive fashion.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who questions the viability of the current system of representative government which is an ineffective parody of democracy.
Once every few years the citizen is asked to participate in a box-ticking exercise and select one option among a very limited and never-changing menu of political parties. The voter is basically expected to give carte blanche to a party to do as they please during the term in office. Electoral promises are treated as an inconvenient hindrance and the only check on government tend to be the media (who often also follow an agenda of their own).

 

Voting on individual issues rather than nebulous party programmes or personalities

Before elections one can often find surveys that allow the voter to check which of the party programs most closely reflects his opinions on a wide range of issues. By filling in the (usually online) questionnaire the voter gets a result that tells him which party would be the one he should vote for. The problem arises when he favours certain policies of party A and others from party B etc. Voting in a referendum on each individual issue would make it possible to align government policy much closer with the preferences of the electorate.


Direct Democracy limits the power of individual politicians
Election campaign more and more depend of the personalities of the leading candidates and the voters are goaded into expecting messianic miracles from backing one or the other candidate. No wonder that sooner or later most of the successful candidates start to believe their own propaganda and become more and more dictatorial and remote from the realities faced by ordinary citizens.
The election promises usually are not worth the paper they are written on as soon as the election results are in.
All these problems - excessive dependence on personalities, useless election promises, too much importance given to marginal issues and lobbies would be contained if the electorate would have a say in the decision of all policy issues. As referenda would be held specifically to decide single issues the debate would become much more objective and rational.



Who instigates electoral reform?
Electoral reforms are usually instigated at the behest of politicians who do not like to listen to the voters and try to manipulate the results of upcoming elections. In Austria the two major parties want to reinforce their dominance by extending the legislative period from four to five years, in Turkey the largest party wants to push through its Presidential candidate by changing to a system where the President is elected directly instead of by the Parliament and in Italy the discussion about the electoral system is threatening to become the equivalent of a political soap opera. Sometimes these efforts backfire as in the case of the recent Scottish parliamentary elections. Without reference to the wishes of the ordinary citizens a complicated new election system was introduced that led to almost 142,000 ballot papers becoming declared invalid - 10 times the number spoilt when these elections were last held in 2003.

 

Direct Democracy allows focus on the real problems

The more things change, the more they stay the same one could say when surveying the results of recent elections or contemplates the alternatives that are on offer to the Public in upcoming elections.
Does it really matter who has won the French Presidential election, the recent Italian, German or Austrian elections or who will be the next President of Turkey, Russia or the USA?
One thing is noticeable in all the election campaigns: the candidates make a litany of election promises that are often incompatible and nearly always have not been costed properly or will have to be supported by more state borrowing or higher taxes that are not mentioned in the election programs.
One box-ticking exercise every few years will do nothing to solve the real problems and concerns of the majority of citizens and at best satisfy selected vociferous lobbies and minorities whose votes are needed to swing the usually narrow vote one way or another.



Polarisation - Direct consequence of box-ticking democracy

In many countries elections leave a clear division between two main political grouping, usually called left and right.
Elections often lead to very close results and changes in government are precipitated by a small swing in the relative share of the popular vote gained by the respective parties.
A system of direct democracy compensates for the tendency towards the development of two dominant parties - or groups of parties - that take turns in power. As every major decision would have to be approved by the electorate the influence of the established political party machines would be reduced and balanced.


Direct Democracy creates substitute for separation of powers

The present system of parliamentary 'democracy' has degenerated into an elective dictatorship that makes a mockery of the separation of powers.
Giving the voters the last word in any decision will be an essential safeguard against the abuse of powers by any party that holds a majority in Parliament. At the same time we should not forget to reform the present political system that links the formation of government to a majority in parliament (which should supervise and control government not just be herded into cowardly submission).



Electoral Law - Does it matter?

From time to time politicians, academics or the media call for a change in the electoral law as a solution. We would argue that the introduction of full direct democracy would - after a period of transition - lead to a more stable political culture under any form of electoral law. As the parties would be aware that - whatever they agree or don't agree on - the citizens would have the final say on any policy, they would tend to converge on views that are likely to be supported by the majority in any referendum.
 

More on Electoral Reform


 



 


 

Why you should support
Dirdem:

Are you angry when people want to control your life?

Are you angry when people want to live off the fruit of your work?

Are you angry when people want to tell you what to think?

►If your answer is YES
to any or all of the above questions then you should support our Movement.



DIRDEM
is more than a traditional Political Party. We do not see this Cause as a career choice - or stepping stone leading to a lucrative career in the private sector.

DIRDEM
is not a Think Tank that publishes lengthy reports that are only read by a few insiders and later disappear in some library of filing cabinet.

DIRDEM
is not a Lobby or Special Interest Group that tries to gain advantage at the expense of other groups of society.

DIRDEM
is not a Religion or Ideology and does not try to make people believe in something except in the belief that no one should be allowed to rule our lives.
 

Decisions you would be able to influence:

By giving the reader examples of recent policy decisions we highlight the dramatic impact the introduction of Direct Democracy would have on the political life of all countries.

All the following decisions where taken without the participation of the affected citizens. Some - if not most - were highly controversial and have a negative effect for at least some major parts of the country's population.

The present system of government not only leaves the citizens powerless in the face of a never-ending tide of legislation, it also inevitably leads to inefficient use of taxpayer's money and a steady erosion of civil liberties.

See what decisions the citizens could influence directly in a proper democratic system

 

 

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