Advantages of Direct Democracy

1. The People’s Policies 

Experience has shown that democracy is enhanced when the electorate is directly involved in making policy decisions, inputting, learning and self-correcting as they go. Referendums and Initiatives allow voters to address matters that the parties might prefer not to, often out of self-interest or to avoid “controversy”.

Direct democracy thus increases voter participation and satisfaction and allows society to evolve in line with the electorate’s wishes, at the speed they choose. In addition, initiatives can be proposed that contrast with government policy, providing a counter to the administration’s monopoly on power, reducing the apparent one-way stream of regulations and balancing policy shifts between administrations. 

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2. We Take Control

Our representatives have handed over significant law-making and regulation-writing responsibilities to bloated bureaucracies and quangos. This is partly a result of society becoming more complex, but it has made it much easier for special interests to see that their aims are prioritised over those of the electorate. We need to take control and reduce the influence of technocrats and lobbyists, ensuring that voters hold the most important policy-making protections in their hands.

Constitutional protections of minorities remain in such a system and can be protected and enhanced through initiatives. This contrasts with the more corruptible “representative” system which, for example, denied voting rights to black Americans for almost a century, and this by a national government that has never held a referendum.

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In addition to the direct benefit of this system, the very fact that voters can call for referendums on draft laws forces politicians to think carefully about how the public will react to their new statutes. This ensures that they seek opinions first, thus laws are more likely to be aligned with the wishes of the voters even before they are published

3. Legitimacy And Trust

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Direct democracy is immensely popular. A 2017 Pew Research Centre survey found that two-thirds of people around the world, from both rich and poor nations, were in favour of voting “directly on major national issues.” In the US, 49 states require a referendum on changes to their constitutions, and surveys show that voters think that laws implemented after a referendum are more legitimate than those passed by representatives.

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California is a state in which citizen-initiated Propositions are routine, and the Californian electorate are very supportive of them, stating in a 2011 survey that they favoured them by a factor of 5 to 1.   

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4. Keep It Simple

Going directly is always quicker than going via a series of stop-overs or, in this case, through representatives, parties and coalitions. This is especially true when the system suffers from complicated bureaucracies, endless delays and self-interested time-servers. The US is all too often looking to the Supreme Court and its Harvard and Yale judicial clique to resolve hot-potato issues, rather than dealing with them in the legislature by calling advisory referendums.

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Direct Democratic tools can take decisions out of the hands of ideology-manacled parties and their special interest backers, cut through government guff, and present a clear decision which is accepted by the people as a democratic resolution of the matter.

5. Harnessing Our Capabilities

Direct democracies value and make use of the dispersed knowledge of the entire electorate so that all of us become joint creators in our nation’s destiny. Since 1937, with only one exception, Britain has been led by a graduate from Oxford University. How diverse is that? And to compound it, many of them went to one school, Eton, so their knowledge and understanding of the life of their fellow voters is incredibly limited.

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The aggregation of knowledge in a direct democracy is one of the main reasons for their success, with reliance on party élites and their oligarchical backers being the main reason for the failures of representative democracies. This is demonstrated not only by the Swiss, but by the regular referendum users in Uruguay, which the Economist ranks as the freest country in Latin America. JOIN THE MOVEMENT