the net 01 Jul 2008 08:30 am

More Direct Democracy

more_democracy.jpgThere’s no doubt that the internet and the social networks it helped create have done two things: brought people closer and brought about much more democracy.
A new political party in Australia called Senator Online is taking this to new extremes, it will allow each member to vote on each and every bill that is tabled at parliament. The majority vote by members is what the party representative will vote in parliament. Now that’s direct democracy !!

With lobbies, special interest groups, back room dealing and partisan voting marring the popular will, this new alternative will be hard to compete with. The party will have no political agenda as such but will act purely according to the will of its members, helping members decide how to vote by offering impartial online information on the pros and cons of each issue. Some might think that such direct democracy could easily take a negative route. What would prevent members from voting against a tax bill, could they strip away rights of minority groups?

Senator On-Line
(abr. SOL) is a registered Australian political party that contested the 2007 Federal election. It is running ten candidates for the Australian Senate.Unlike other political parties, Senator On-Line does not have any policies of its own. Instead it will conduct an online poll for every bill that passes before the Senate. Anyone on the Australian electoral roll who is not a member of another political party will be allowed to register to vote in these polls and will be allowed one vote per bill. The senators will then be required to vote in accordance with the clear majority (70% and more than 100,000 votes). If there is no clear majority the senators will abstain from voting.

The FAQ’s on the party website tries to answer these questions: To prevent a malevolent majority from overthrowing the country, Senator Online will only be represented in the upper house, The Senate. Here, the powers are limited to approving or rejecting bills. It is the Australian lower house, the House of Representatives that proposes and debates bills.

Web based democracy is new and untested and it is very likely that, as did social networks, direct democracy groups will evolve in unexpected ways and will have profound effects on how politics is done. Special interest groups, lobbyists etc will no longer try and influence legislators but will likely focus on the masses. But the masses are exactly that, MASSES and influencing them is a going to be a lot harder.

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