Direct Access Democracy
- Democracia Participativa
- Category: Fundamentos / Basics
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Direct Access Democracy is the process for electronically gathering public opinion by an elected representative on specific issues for the purpose of determining a position on an upcoming vote. Much like a non-binding plebiscite it determines the wishes of the majority on a variety of issues. Direct Access Democracy makes a difference in that the referendums are held by the elected official. The elected representative does not decide which issue is important to the people to contribute to and which is not. The voting population at large does.
If a posted referendum reaches a quorum, then and only then shall it be considered the will of the people. Anything less may guide the representative to his decision but is not imperative that he abides by the decision. There is nothing in the law of democratic countries such as Canada or the US that can bind a politician to adhere to the outcome of a representative held referendum. However, this process can. The teams organizing direct access democracy initiatives will disengage services to any elected official who circumvents the process to express their own will if a quorum has clearly been established. If a quorum is reached, then the public by default becomes their own representative in a Direct Access Democracy constituency.
A quorum would be determined by the size of the constituency. Direct Access Democracy uses a spectrum of communication technologies to deliver the power of contribution to the constituency. From phones, internet and wireless devices the constituent is enabled to maintain a direct connection to the decision making process by being able to manipulate the vote of the representative.
"On most major issues we've dealt with in the past 50 years, the public was more likely to be right --based on the judgment of history-- than the legislatures or Congress."
George Gallup, Sr., America's leading pollster.
Under a model contained within the campaign proposal outlined above, an Initiative Procedure is required. This Direct Access Democracy style of representation also includes the right of the voting participants to submit proposals for items to be considered for a motion to be initiated. When and if it meets the requirements, then it would be put to a privately (representative run) held general non-binding referendum as to its feasibility. If the consensus is that it is a worthwhile initiative, then it shall be brought before the governing body by the elected official.
Certain conditions may arise that eliminate the ability of an elected official to effectively gather enough feedback prior to "special" meetings like an emergency meeting or a closed meeting.
A conceptually related movement known as E-Democracy has been launched during the last few years to “use of information and communications technologies and strategies by 'democratic sectors' within the political processes of local communities, states/regions, nations and on the global stage." (Clift, Steven. "E-Democracy, E-Governance and Public Net-Work" September 2003. http://www.publicus.net/articles/edempublicnetwork.html). Clift’s conceptual diagram is this:
Some groups are promoting a far reaching E-Democracy concept as the strongest form of direct democracy, empowering the people in the legislative function. Many advocates think that also important to this notion are technological enhancements to the deliberative process. This model of direct democracy is sometimes referred to by many other names, such as open source governance and collaborative governance.
In fact, open source governance offers a variance to Direct Access Democracy by introducing ways and means for legislation to be democratically opened to the general citizenry, employing their collective wisdom to benefit the decision-making process and improve democracy.
Some of these ideas have been evolving through the "Imagine Halifax" project, designed to create a citizens' forum for elections in Halifax, Nova Scotia in fall 2004 and the 2004–05 Green Party of Canada Living Platform, among many other proposals and initiatives.
The whole idea is that people in Democracy should be allowed to contribute to public decisions when an overwhelming portion desires to do so. That is a viable form of