Friday, 26 September 2008

How to decide when to hold a referendum

Interactive Democracy is a system of referendums, but, as mentioned in the previous post, it isn't suitable for all situations facing the country. Here are some criteria for holding a referendum.

Referendums should not be held if:
  1. The information is secret.
  2. The situation is extremely complex - beyond the understanding of the typical juror (man on the street).
  3. Immediate action is required.
  4. The action required must be kept secret to be effective.
Referendums should be held if:
  1. The decision requires a social value judgement.
  2. The decision is best arrived at by an expression of individual wants or needs.

It would be sensible if parliament decided if each individual issue should go to referendum or if they, or the government, should have the final say. They will be held to account in the General Election.

The Government Knows What's Best For Us

Is it the case that government knows what's best? Undoubtedly this is true some of the time, because they have access to information and expertise that isn't generally available, or even understandable, by the general population. Witness the recent financial earthquakes or consider the importance of secret military intelligence.
The government needs to be in a position to take decisions in situations where Interactive Democracy will be ineffective and only they can decide when to employ their powers. However, this "emergency" response is balanced by Parliaments inspection and by the voting rights of the general public to sack them at the next general election, or even call for resignations sooner.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Sacking Ministers

In some circumstances the public may well call for the dismissal of ministers. I don't believe that the opposition parties will be perpetually manipulating the Interactive Democracy system to this end, as such a contrivance will be obvious to the general public who will then be in a position to hold them in contempt at the next election... or make an immediate counter claim through the ID process. The dismissal of ministers will only occur if the majority think it correct.

Precipitating a General Election

Growing disillusionment with the government may be expressed through Interactive Democracy and, in theory, could reach the stage of demanding a General Election. I doubt if the joint opposition parties would be in a perpetual state of trying to trigger such an election (through the ID votes of their party members), otherwise they could expect the same "compliment" if they took office. However, news of government mistakes or incompetency may trigger a wider demand for change.