Direct Democracy – The Simple Solution

A growing number of nations and localities recognise the benefits that voters bring to their policy-making process and have adopted direct democracy. In general, they retain the existing representative system to “manage” day-to-day matters, but also use three tried, tested and simple voting tools to top-up the half-full democracy tank. These are:

1. The Referendum

In a representative system politicians generally initiate referendums, but in a direct democracy these can be demanded by voters, usually to challenge a new law after its issue by the legislature. In order for challengers to trigger a referendum, they commonly have to collect a pre-determined percentage / number of eligible voters’ signatures in a set time period. If they do so, the entire electorate can vote, often on a first-past-the-post basis. This is simple to implement, with a reasonable hurdle put in place to reduce frivolous challenges.

Swiss Happy Free Prosperous

2. The Recall

Not happy with the performance of your political representatives? This is where direct democracy has another advantage over the current failed system: voters can gather signatures to call for corrupt, rogue or failing politicians to face the music, with local electors able to remove and replace them. Concentrates their minds wonderfully! 

3. The Initiative

These allow voters to make innovative proposals of their own, again requiring them to sign up voters before a referendum can be called. The percentage / number of the electorate required to initiate a Proposition, as they are sometimes called, is usually higher than that for a standard referendum.

Example: The Swiss have utilised such a system at national, regional and local levels since 1848, and they vote about four times a year. They must be very happy with it, having maintained it for almost two centuries, ensuring that they routinely rank high on global happiness and prosperity indexes, with a debt level half that of the UK. 

Swiss Happy Free Prosperous

Voters will then be able to instruct their MP on which way his or her electorate wants them to vote.