Towards a More Direct Democracy
Bozhidar Bozhanov
71

An interesting concept. As a Swiss, I do participate in one of the few direct democratic systems, and do vote on quite some issues every year (maybe 10–20). Also, I know that I can participate in an initiative for or a referendum against any new law, which, if successful, will lead to a national vote.

From that perspective, some thoughts:

  • You suggest to select a randomized expert group, mixed with randomized non-experts. I feel this would be the hardest part: It’s inherently too abusable, the weak spot, even if not exploited, people could feel so when they’re not involved where they’d like to be. In our system, all Swiss can vote on every national issue (and of course there are also local district-level votes). The ones taking interest will, other won’t, so the votes will allow everyone to participate, but regulated by the people’s interest. This approach probably won’t scale up to an EU level — but as a line of thougt.
  • I feel it will take time and experience to get “educated, responsible and long-term thinking” voters. It requires some experience. Best example of how not to start with: Do a Brexit vote as a first national vote of its kind… Once a population votes down an initiative to add one more week of paid vacation for everyone or +$2'000/month basic income for everyone, because they believe it will hurt the economy in the long run, they’re ready (…). So — why wait — better start slow, maybe on communal levels, or with non-binding votes — just get the people there. Once both sides are confident that it works for both, next steps can follow.
  • The parliament will not give away its power to the people. Period. Some direct-democratic approaches were discussed in Germany since 30 or so years, never went anywhere, because the ones in power fear the people. So — in order to get started, the ones in power must be convinced to win, not to loose.
  • Without being pathetic, I think when it comes to direct-democratic approaches, it would be wise to learn from the experience of those that exercise it since over 200 years. They know what works, what does not, where the problems and advantages lie, how the vote characteristics behave in relation to public sentiment, etc.

Just read your article about the Open Source law — concratulations there! That’s really very progressive. Maybe in the future, some form of direct democracy will be introduced in Bulgaria, too?