citizens' initiative and referendum
MESSAGE TO USENET NEWSGROUPS FEBRUARY 2003
Anti-war demonstrations and public opinion are unlikely to influence government security policy. Democratic deficits are spotlighted.
Creative, colourful, powerless
Thu, 20 Feb 2003 14:59:31 +0100
Citizens' Initiative and Referendum I&R http://www.iniref.org
uk.politics.constitution, uk.politics.parliament, soc.culture.europe, uk.politics.misc
Across the world millions of people have joined public demonstrations
showing opposition to war against Irak. Even though, in addition,
opinion polls may show a majority against war in Irak, this evidence of
opposition to their policies is by no means guaranteed to cause
governments to change their course.
In none of the countries involved is there a procedure which formally
allows citizens to propose policy or law for their country. There is no
way in which they can demand a binding referendum on a policy question.
They must wait until the next election in order to express their
dissatisfaction. And what if the major parties agree on substantial
areas of policy, as for instance "defence"? Where then is the voter's
In Britain and in most other countries there are grave deficiencies of
democracy. The House of Lords, the election system and the European
Union have been criticised in this regard. What is missing is an
awareness of procedures which enable the electorate to propose for
consideration, and to decide directly upon, some public issues.
The solution is to introduce *partial* direct democracy in the form of
citizens' (law-) initiative and referendum. The system is already very
well tried in Switzerland, many states of the USA and elsewhere. This
allows a proposal, if it can gather support from hundreds of thousands
of people, to be put before parliament and if necessary to go before the
whole electorate in a binding referendum. The million who demonstrated
in London could "trigger" such a referendum.
Further information may be found at http://www.iniref.org
Citizens' Initiative and Referendum I&R