Proposed Democracy Model.
The ideal of democracy has almost universal appeal. The fact that only the representative form is possible should not preclude the attainment of a much closer approach to the ideal than is currently apparent, (acknowledging the fact that the ideal of the direct form can never be reached). To achieve this, however, we need to remodel the system completely, using the experience of the last 300 years and more.
At each stage of the government process we want to ensure the maximum involvement of the electorate, and where the electorate cannot be directly involved, representatives must be able to act in a democratic manner with as much supervision as can be achieved.
We start therefore at the beginning – with the selection of representatives. Here we are looking for “reluctant politicians”.
Selection of Candidates
Selection will be solely on the basis of merit.
Note:- We want to do away with the corruption of patronage and nepotism, and rule out political dynasties completely.
Candidates will be selected by the electoral groups themselves from possible choices within their area. They must conform to a minimum age limit.
Note:- Candidates living in the area and at least 40 years old, for example, will be far better able to represent it correctly.
Two candidates will be selected as a minimum, more at the discretion of the electoral group, but only one of them may be elected as the representative.
Note:- There must be a choice, or an election would not be necessary. The one coming second could be a reserve in case the winner has to be recalled. This would save an interim or bye-election having to be held.
A simple majority decides the winner. The winner will serve for one government period only, unless re-selected and re-elected.
Note:- There is no need for proportional representation as there are no parties. For a reluctant politician, one term will be enough. A single term limits the risk of corruption and elitism, provided that the person is not a career politician.
For any subsequent term after the first, only a two-thirds majority will be acceptable.
Note:- Although more than one term should be discouraged, it should not be impossible if the representative is good.
All representatives may have personal views, but they may not affiliate themselves with any political group.
Note:- Elitism is a terrible scourge, and there is no place for it in a democracy.
Electoral groups will monitor the performance of their chosen representative. If deemed lacking, he may be recalled, and the candidate with the next highest vote will replace him.
Note:- performance indicators could be attendance, voting record, activity in committees and in the assembly. We do not need silent representatives. The reference is the Mandate – see below.
Selection of candidates and monitoring of representatives will be done by an apolitical body.
Note:- This could be senior citizens, for example. They are more likely to have the time required, and their knowledge of the local population will be good. Alternatively, the Greek principle could be used – a lottery.
This is the equivalent of the Party Manifesto, which will no longer exist.
Instead we need an indication of the views of the electoral group, which will cover the range of action inherent in the manifesto, and will serve as the basis of their representative’s mandate for that term.
The Mandate could be based on a centrally-issued pro-forma to simplify it’s preparation, and to enable a combined Mandate to be prepared in order to form a Government Term Programme of action.
The Mandate will clearly state on which matters, if any, the electoral group requires consultation, and those on which they wish a Referendum to be held.
Note:- This is a very important point, for at the moment it is the government (non-democratic) that makes these decisions, but very seldom. The Mandate defines where the government has freedom of action, and where not.
Representatives will elect from their own ranks the Officials necessary for government, ie. the chief executive and the cabinet.
Note:- This may still not be the ideal, but should reduce corrupt practices.
The government will follow the requirements of the Government Term Programme.
Should matters arise that are not specifically included in the programme, the government shall initially handle them as it sees fit, but shall inform the electorate that an ‘Out of Mandate Event’ has occurred, supplying information as to the event itself and the proposed course of action by the government.
The electoral groups may then respond to this exception directly by counselling their representative, or not, as they choose. They must inform their representative of their decision.
Similarly, if it proves that a part of the programme cannot be handled as the electorate wishes, the government shall inform the electorate that a Programme Exception has occurred, to give the groups the opportunity to make revisions.
Note:- This provides for much greater involvement of the electorate between election periods, specifically at those times where something unusual or unplanned has occurred.
Representatives will confirm that the Government Term Programme is a reasonable summary of the combined electoral group mandates, investigate any items that seem implausible, and report the investigation to his electoral group.
All votes within the assembly will be ‘free’ or ‘conscience’ votes.
Note:- All matters of government are seen as matters of conscience in a democracy.
Representatives shall vote in accordance with their personal Mandates.
Note:- Where there is a conflict, their personal opinions must be subjugated to the wishes of the electoral group.
Representatives not attending the debate shall be ineligible to vote.
Note:- They cannot know for what they would be voting, therefore they may not.
To avoid the passage of controversial legislation, a vote shall require the assent of 60% of the total number of representatives to be carried.
Note:- Good laws will have no problem here, bad laws we don’t need.
There shall be no competition, and the government shall be incapable of falling collectively.
Individual representatives may fall according to their electoral group’s interpretation of their performance. Where this affects a government official, a replacement shall be elected from within the assembly.
Lobbying shall be restricted to electoral group level only.
The lobbying of representatives shall be disallowed, with the representative being required to report any such attempt to his electoral group.
Similarly, the lobbying of the assembly as a whole shall be disallowed, with the requirement to report any attempts to the whole electorate.
Note:- For business groups to exert influence, they would have to work much harder at a much lower level, for they too would need to achieve a majority. This would also mean that their activities were no longer secret.
In conclusion, a quotation:-
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead (Anthropologist)