Thursday, 28 April 2011

LET THE CITIZENS DECIDE

The countries of the European Union are seen as democratic countries. But more than ever the sound for a bigger influence of citizens on government is noticeable. In Italy people hit the streets demanding their prime minister to stop creating laws that make him untouchable for the law, still a majority in parliament approved the laws made by the prime minister. In the Netherlands 84% of the citizens are against a new mission in Afghanistan and as if the voice of citizens doesn’t matter, a majority in parliament agreed with the new mission to Afghanistan. 




The word democracy descends from the two Greek words: δμος (dèmos) “People” and κρατέω (krateo ) “to rule”. So a democracy is a country in where the citizens, the people, rule the country. So why aren’t the members of parliament (chosen by the citizens as their representative) listening to the people, as those countries claim to be a democracy. The most absurd aspect of this behavior is that the members of parliament often claim that they are representing the citizens but those citizens don’t have the knowledge to decide what is best for themselves nor their country. Simply said they claim the citizens of their country are a bunch of morons, who can’t make correct decisions and who need to be leaded like little children. 




A more democratic way of ruling a nation can be found in Switzerland. In Switzerland the citizens are given the right to vote on all issues, which normally are only discussed in parliament. This can range from international affairs like contributing to the war in Iraq, to immigration laws and improving infrastructure of Switzerland. An example is the referendum held in 1992 on the Swiss accession to the European Union, it was rejected. Untill now Switzerland is not a member of the European Union.

The form of government used in Switzerland is called direct democracy. With this form of government the citizens get the following instruments:

·         The right to petition -- A small number of collected signatures can force the elected parliament on a particular topic to discuss on a particular topic and vote on it.

·         Binding referendum on people’s initiative --  This is a referendum in which the signature threshold is higher than the right of petition, and where the voters can adopt or reject the citizens proposal, or bill of parliament. The result is binding.

·         Legally binding referendum -- This is the so-called plebiscite, the government or a sufficient number of MPs can propose a proposal to the voters. In Switzerland, a plebiscite is not allowed.

·         Deposition Procedure – Also called called recalls. An authority figure can be deposited when a majority of voters want that.

·         National Assembly -- This is the original form of direct democracy as it emerged in classical Athens: theekklesia, in many communities and two cantons in Switzerland National Assemblies are still held.

·         Online democracy – Parties communicate with their supporter through internet which could lead to a vote.

It’s time to follow the Swiss or not. In many European countries there are parties trying to make the democracy of their county a bit more democratic. Somehow those parties are not winning enough votes to make a change and let alone make their country a direct democracy. Let’s hope that the countries claiming to be a democracy will turn in to a real direct democracy, where it citizens have the power and not some elite. 

1 comments:

Slavjan Vujacic said...

Nowadays we can witness that there is an distinction between democracies were people define the policies their governments should implement and we can apparantely notice that we have (plenty in west europe) democracies where we know and observe some lack of „democractic energies“. How come? If we consider that we have democratic institutions who are working strongly and efficiently we need to ask ourselves why politicians make decisions which are not advocated by us (You mentioned the nice example about Netherland People against new missions in Afghanistan). So obviously we have some divergence in the political participation we effect(input)and the results we receive(output). What are the reasons?Even if it is hard to explain, the bunch of komplexity in finding ubiquitary explanations for losing touch with our democracy, some of the following aspects can make a senseful approach for understanding why : First of all, we can see that the most impacting conflicts we watch in media are moreover not only transnational but increasingly global: global warming, global financial crises etc. - all in fact very hard to conceive by "ordinary" national instruments of demoracies we know! If we take this point into consideration, then we know where political frustration (political depression) comes from and with it an lack of "democratic energies" in between an society and her democratic and institutional system! So from the faint of no successfull acting, regarding the problems we face,frustration rises!
One possible reason for the action disability rising from frustration: There is an increasing powershift of the democratic political system to the economic system! huge global firms are not well regulated or controled by democratic governments! (see world financial crises/bank sector) global firms find themselves better in globalising their business than political systems do (neoliberalism-problem?)We can say that the political system nowadays tries entirely to improve and design economic, capitalistic parameters.The interdependence od economic relations we can watch in greece: Even if no one understands in germany why germany does help greece and nor do greeks see themselves guilty, both citizens find themselves in protests (public/latent). So we can observe that people lose increasingly touch with their politicians and in this reason the implementation of their ideas into political processes!It seems like the peoples claims do not fit into the claims politicians need to provide.
Governments lose control or do not want to interact in capitalistic economic structures while lobbies are getting more powerful. Politics seems moreover to keep up the basic economic conditions in function instead of making an bridge to the citizens, talking, arguing,ides and criticism. Democracy bases in current times moeover in elections where people do not elect but often buy an charismatic charakter and his family his kids and his pats too. And the PR-Teams made their jobs very well , they know how to sell! We can observe that democartic, political mechanisms are getting weaker, people do not interact in parties no more but allocate themselves and their interest increasinlgy in social movements (see Occupy-Movement). The political system, the elections, the parties do not remind of an functioning democratic system in whole but more over into an ecnomic hostage whose people lose touch to their politicians and feel unconsciouness in respect of their opinions and demands. Some few decide over the whole instead of the other way round. It will be very interesting to watch how the financial crisis in europe will stretch the EU which also shows an lack of "democracy energies", what western democracies increasinlgy show themselves in an area where demos and krateo seem to be more seperated then the text shows. Democracy exists but not in the way it should be! Quo vadis, democracy?

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