I&R

citizens' initiative and referendum




People's proposal to renew democracy
(request for comments 2)

There follows a rough compendium of correspondence about People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2), which was first posted around 12th July 1999. Comments which may deserve special attention are from Sharan Burrow of the Australian Education Union, Christian Welzel of the Social Science Centre WZB Berlin, Jamie Woolley, specialist in environmental law, Jay Moor of The Global Urban Observatory (UNO - Habitat) and Alister Scott of Sussex University; others are interesting, informative or have their own charm ;-)

First edition compiled 20th July 1999

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
X-Sender: sharan@edunions.labor.net.au
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 11:18:23 +1000
To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de> (by way of Reception <aeu@edunions.labor.net.au>)
From: Sharan Burrow <sharan@edunions.labor.net.au>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
 

Susan.do you know this person - is he one of those loons from the CIT.
Elect. Lobby or a genuine lefty?

At 09:38 AM 7/12/99 +1000, you wrote:
>Australian Education Union
>PO Box 1158, South Melbourne, Vic 3205
>
>Dear Friends at AEU,
>
>I want to gather people's opinions and encourage discussion about the
>chances to improve real participation in public decision making, democracy
>and governance.
>
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
X-Sender: cndyorks@pop.gn.apc.org
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 10:01:18 +0100
To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
From: Yorkshire CND <cndyorks@gn.apc.org>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

Hi

Thanks for your email.

I would like to take this to our next co-ordinating group meeting in
September - is there a timescale for this or do you need repsonses more
quickly?

Thanks for passing it to us.

in peace

Rachel Julian

At 17:09 10/07/99 +0200, you wrote:
>Yorkshire CND
>22 Edmund Street
>Bradford BD5 0BH
>
>Dear Friends at Yorkshire CND,
>
>I want to gather people's opinions and encourage discussion about the
>chances to improve real participation in public decision making, democracy
>and governance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 13:48:07 +0100
From: julianr <julianr@foe.co.uk> {Friends of the Earth}
To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Cc: gordonj@foe.co.uk
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

Dear Michael

Thank you for your e-mail.  This would not be a matter for me as Local
Groups Development Officer so I have copied this response, along with
your message to Gordon James, FoE Cymru's Head of Campaigns.

Yours sincerely,

Julian Rosser

Michael Macpherson wrote:
>
> Friends of the Earth
> Cymru Office Local Group Development Officer
>
> Dear Julian Rosser,
>
> I want to gather people's opinions and encourage discussion about the
> chances to improve real participation in public decision making, democracy
> and governance.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: julianr <julianr@foe.co.uk>
From: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

Dear Julian,

Thanks for passing on the proposal. It would great if FoE Cymru would endorse or adopt all or part of the proposal. If more information is needed, e.g. about how citizens' initiative and referendum work in practice, then I would be pleased to help. The importance of democratic reform for the environment is an aspect of obvious relevance for FoE.

I did have some reasons for having sent the proposal to local/regional pro-environmental, peace and human rights groups - because these questions concern all citizens and so wide discussion is needed. We need to reach out to people with a variety of different political opinions.

Following are a few items about the proposal, which I would like to ask you to pass on to Gordon James.

In May 99 I sent a first version of the proposal to a group of people across the world whom I know are interested in democracy. I collected the replies - most of them are to be found in WWW at http://www.snafu.de/~mjm/reform.html (rfc/People's proposal to renew democracy).

A short version of the proposal has been published in print in Worldwide Direct Democracy Newsletter Vol.1 (No.2) June 1999. Available from Movement for Direct Democracy, P.O.Box 38, 149 00 Prague 415, Czech Republic
fax: Czech Republic, 2-791 79 69 mailto:jiri.polak@swipnet.se or mailto:binka@phil.muni.cz (Volume 1 No 1 is interesting, too.)

Also, the proposal could be debated in on-line groups, e.g. at Democr@cy Forum http://www.democracyforum.net which I run with John Gotze.

Julian Rosser <julianr@foe.co.uk> 12 07 99 wrote

>Dear Michael

>Thank you for your e-mail.  This would not be a matter for me as Local
>Groups Development Officer so I have copied this response, along with
>your message to Gordon James, FoE Cymru's Head of Campaigns.
>
>Yours sincerely,
>

Best wishes,
Michael

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From Jamie Woolley, specialist in environmental law.
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
Date: 14 7 99

Dear Michael MacPherson

Thanks for your email. I agree with what you are proposing. Without thinking
about it v much, my first thoughts were about California which has wonderful
provision for some of the things you mention, Switzerland and other places
where referenda can be required by accumulating enough signatures: but you
know all this. (The Council of Europe published a booklet about these kind
of things where they were actually existing, didnt it reasonably recently.)
Secondly there was a referendum organised by local government in North Wales
about changes in the drinking laws quuite recently : did you see that.
Thirdly have you talked to Charter 88? Fourthly, the dead hand at local
government level is the absence of choice: as long as local authorities
cannot raised their own finances locally and as long as political parties
cannot consequently suggest clearly differing programmes, people wont
bother. Fifthly I notice at the back of the Report of the Consultative
Steering group on the Scottish Parliament social partnerships, consensus
conferences, citizens juries, deliberative opinion polling, citizens panels,
public petitions and a recommenation from the Expert Panel on Information
and Communications Technologies: subgroup on democratic participatipon "1.
The Scottish Parliament should establish a process to review, report and
make recommendations to improve democratic participation."This met under the
Chairmanship of Mr Alistair Brown of the Scottish \Office, Directro of
Administrative Services : I see his phone no is 0131 244 7937.

 The issues are v relevant to my work on nuclear waste where any management
solution is now generally agreed only likely to work if it has maximum
public support with any local community finding itself chosen, having the
right to a referndum to reject that.

What do you wnt me to do tho ?!

Regards

Jamie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: (Jamie Woolley)
From: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

Dear Jamie,

> The issues are v relevant to my work on nuclear waste where any management
>solution is now generally agreed only likely to work if it has maximum
>public support with any local community finding itself chosen, having the
>right to a referndum to reject that.
>
>What do you wnt me to do tho ?!

Thank you for comments and information (not copied above) which I will follow up. I have been in contact with Charter 88 - signed it too! The question of how democracy reform can contribute to solving environmental problems is something which I think should be considered and studied more than I have been able to do.

I was told last year by some British local politicians that central gov. had asked them to consider offering referenda. I have scanned the recent Dept. of Environment paper about local participation plus a white paper on local gov. reform. There are two important ways in which the reforms which I am suggesting go beyond what British gov. circles seem to find digestible at present:
The processes IR±R* are initiated by citizens, rather than _only_ by council/ parliament/government.
All levels of representation are involved (local council, regional assembly/body, national parliament, Westminster parliament, perhaps Europe and beyond.) Which body is addressed depends on the issue, on geographical relevance and administrative boundaries.

I wonder if you could give a bit of thought to two aspects:

1) Constitutional and legal. I am not under the illusion that it will be easy to introduce IR±R in Britain. Am not by any means a specialist in democratic law so please take this into account when reading the following.

a) Is there a law against citizens' initiative and referendum at any level of government (apparently at local level there is no law against referendum)? Can some applicable ancient rights be found in dusty scrolls?

b) If a first step could be to introduce a law enabling and financing Initiative and Referendum into parliament, then this should be possible, given that (if I recall correctly) a single citizen may introduce a law.

c) Do you see any constitutional or legal barriers to the introduction and practice of IR±R in the UK?

2) Promoting public debate

I have already written to a few environmental groups. Example of response from FoE follows. I think that the "people's proposal" should go to people and groups across the country, e.g. community, peace, human rights, trade unions, various associations and clubs. Once (hopefully) there is a bit more feed-back (good echo so far) and some discussion has started then it will be necessary to try to involve the print media and tv/radio.

I am willing to do some of this early outreach work - but I lack easily useable e-mail address lists - have been painstakingly fishing these from WWW sites.

Any suggestions about how to proceed etc. would be welcomed.

Thanks for your letter.

Michael.
 

*IR±R = Citizens' law initiative, Referendum, Recall of elected.

Dr. Michael Macpherson,
PSAMRA/Integral Studies,
Berlin FRG
tel.: +49 30 262 3768

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
From: "Christian Welzel"
Organization: Wissenschaftszentrum (Centre for Social Sciences) Berlin
To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 09:55:31 GMT+0100
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
 

Dear Michael,

your proposal puts all crucial points into a nutshell. I completely
agree with this proposal.

Best regards,

Christian Welzel
 

Dr. Christian Welzel
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 21:08:57 +0100
To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Cc: econ-lets@mailbase.ac.uk
From: Kevin Donnelly
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

In message <l03130309b3b39c548a33@[195.21.35.7]>, Michael Macpherson
<mjm@berlin.snafu.de> writes

>Dear Friends of econ-lets,
>
>I want to gather people's opinions and encourage discussion about the
>chances to improve real participation in public decision making, democracy
>and governance.
(....)
>SOME BACKGROUND THOUGHTS AND ARGUMENTS
>
>In an almost purely representative democracy such as the United Kingdom
>most people can contribute only by voting for an MP once every few years.

I think it was Sir Edward Heath who called it our quinquennial peep at
democracy!

Kevin Donnelly
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 19:28:11 +0100
To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Cc: econ-lets@mailbase.ac.uk
From: Kevin Donnelly
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

In message <l03130300b3b606b8942a@[195.21.164.110]>, Michael Macpherson
<mjm@berlin.snafu.de> writes
>Thanks Kevin for the Ted Heath quote - i'll keep it in reserve.
The other Heath quote that I recall was on Black Wednesday when the UK
was forced out of the ERM: International speculators have undermined the
economic policy of a democratically elected government  (BBC2 Newsnight
interview shortly after the event.)
>
>>Citizen's Juries were proposed by Andrew Marr, editor of the Independent
>>(no longer so, I think) on pp 51-2 of his book Ruling Britannia.
>
>Maybe it's easy to find this book in Berlin. If i need to accept your offer
>of faxing some pages of it will get back to you.
>
>If list members come across info. or writing about relationships between
>local or global economy and democratic reform then please let me know.

Some years ago I heard Helmut Wiesenthal give an excellent paper in
English on Guaranteed Income -das garantierte Grundeinkommen- titled
Breaking the Link.  I believe he's now professor at the Free University
of Berlin.
        You must have come across Margrit Kennedy and the Permakultur
people?  And Prof. Claus Offe (Hamburg, I think) a strong member of the
Basic Income European Network.  Likewise Ulrich Duchrow and the Kairos
Europa umbrella group in Heidelberg.  Patrick Corcoran I think is Irish
but spends much time in Munich: he's involved with republishing Silvio
Gesell's New Economic Order, but it's twelve months since I heard from
him.
        Other significant contributors available through the Internet
are Michel Chossudovsky and Bernard Lietaer.  American critic David
Korten is well-known here, although I have yet to read his books.
However I was very impressed with his analysis of capitalism on an
audio-cassette which a colleague sent me recently.
KD
--
Kevin Donnelly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
X-Sender: mediatio@solution.unite.net (Unverified)
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 09:23:39 +0100
From: info@mediation-network.org.uk (Mediation Network for Northern Ireland)
Subject: Dr Macpherson

Dear Dr Macpherson,

Thank you for your email of July 10 regarding 'people's proposal to renew
democracy'.  It has been noted with interest by staff at Mediation
Network.

Best wishes

Dolores Murtagh
Administrative Officer

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Reply-To: "Jay Ginn"
List: european-sociologist@mailbase.ac.uk
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 11:21:06 +0100

I'm in sympathy with your proposal (as an old syndicalist) but am not sure
where you are suggesting the signed proposal should be sent.

jay ginn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: "Jay Ginn"
From: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

Dear Jay,

>I'm in sympathy with your proposal (as an old syndicalist) but am not sure
>where you are suggesting the signed proposal should be sent.

One of the questions in the first "request for comments" asked for suggestions about how best to do this i.e. to collect signed proposals. For instance, there are already established ways to collect supporting signatures for referenda, e.g. in Switzerland. Also, there are some examples of successfully completed computer-network-based petitions. We, those concerned to see this type of proposal put into effect, need to find the best ways to proceed. I welcome suggestions.

Main purpose of circulating the proposal until now has been to inform a broad group of people, social multipliers, NGOs and others about alternative democratic systems in an effort to stimulate debate about reform and how to bring it about. The best way to proceed with a proposal like this has not been identified yet - we are all edging onto new ground.

I am willing - and have started - to collect people's reactions including statements of support, "signatures", and critical responses.

So, as one of the first, I ask you to "sign" or endorse the proposal to renew democracy. It would be good if those who sign give their place of residence, work background and at least an e-mail address. Your further comments would be welcome too, soon or later.

Separately, I'll send an e-mail with IR+R news.

Best wishes,
Michael.

(Formerly of Perth/Scotland, Co. Durham, Manchester, Surrey ;-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
To: Jay Ginn
Date: 17 July 1999 18:28
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

>Dear Jay,
(you wrote)
>>I'm in sympathy with your proposal (as an old syndicalist) but am not sure
>>where you are suggesting the signed proposal should be sent.
>
>One of the questions in the first "request for comments" asked for
>suggestions about how best to do this i.e. to collect signed proposals. For
>instance, there are already established ways to collect supporting
>signatures for referenda, e.g. in Switzerland. Also, there are some
>examples of successfully completed computer-network-based petitions. We,
>those concerned to see this type of proposal put into effect, need to find
>the best ways to proceed. I welcome suggestions.
>
>Main purpose of circulating the proposal until now has been to inform a
>broad group of people, social multipliers, NGOs and others about
>alternative democratic systems in an effort to stimulate debate about
>reform and how to bring it about. The best way to proceed with a proposal
>like this has not been identified yet - we are all edging onto new ground.
>
>I am willing - and have started - to collect people's reactions including
>statements of support, "signatures", and critical responses.
>
>So, as one of the first, I ask you to "sign" or endorse the proposal to
>renew democracy. It would be good if those who sign give their place of
>residence, work background and at least an e-mail address. Your further
>comments would be welcome too, soon or later.
>
>Separately, I'll send an e-mail with IR+R news.
>
>Best wishes,
>Michael.
>
>(Formerly of Perth/Scotland, Co. Durham, Manchester, Surrey ;-)
(...)

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Reply-To: "Jay Ginn"
To: "Michael Macpherson" <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 11:26:11 +0100

I'm sorry but I'm not even sure how to go about 'signing' an emailed
message! And there may be others who are equally computer illiterate even
tho we use email, Net etc.

I really did mean, what does one physically do with a Manifesto when wishing
to express agreement with it.
 

jay ginn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reply to Jay Ginn, 20 7 99

Hallo Jay,

>I'm sorry but I'm not even sure how to go about 'signing' an emailed
>message! And there may be others who are equally computer illiterate even
>tho we use email, Net etc.
>
>I really did mean, what does one physically do with a Manifesto when wishing
>to express agreement with it.

I can't add much to my former reply yet. Discussion about "proposal to renew democracy", mainly about the content rather than about how to proceed, is continuing. I'll continue to add endorsements to the Democr@cy Forum website, as they arrive. If any clearer answers to your question arrive then I'll let you know.

Maybe it could help to add a few points of which you may not be aware. There are "secure" systems in Internet and WWW which mean that "signatures" can be transmitted. These may be in the form of cryptic codes. On-line bank business and share-buying are done like this, as far as I know. If you want to know more about electronic petitions, electronic referenda and on-line voting then I suggest that you search the net using search machines such as Altavista, Metacrawler, Excite. (Pls. let me know about any results).

A couple of items may be of interest -
1) a short report in British Medical Journal, 17th July 1999, page 202. "... nothing could be easier than telephoning 0800 55 66 96 and adding your name to a petition supporting the millenium gesture to cancel all debts owed by poor countries to rich countries. Comic Relief has organised the petition in response to a challenge from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who insist the British Government will act if enough people want it to happen."

2) A commercial venture to enable political voting http://www.votehere.net/ the secure Internet voting  company  http://www.votesite.com/frameset.html

Cheers
Michael.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@snafu.de
Mailing-List: contact ddf-owner@egroups.com {e-forum Direct Democracy}
Reply-To: ddf@egroups.com
From: Ian Green <iangreen@ao.com.au>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 23:39:57 +1000
Subject: [ddf] Re: People's proposal to renew democracy // Review of the CICDD discussion to date // Refocus on DDF principles.

Hello Michael (and the list),

DDF subscribers who may not already receive the CICDD messages will be
interested in your proposal as an indication of a fairly common (possibly
the equilibrium) view on the 'Continuing International Congress on Direct
Democracy' mailing list, and one that most *Direct Democracy* proponents
consider helpful in the process of a gradual implementation of Direct
Democracy.

Michael, did your people eventually decide on a name for that brand of
democracy which has both direct and representative components? In my
country it has a high level of recognition under the acronym "C.I.R."
(Citizen Intitiated Referenda) and has been on the platform of a number of
fringe political parties at least since the early 1980s. The description of
"fringe" is earned by the status accorded them both by the media and the
percentage of votes they typically receive at general elections. It is not
used (by me) as a term of derision, though that often seems to be the case
wherever broadcast or print mass media are concerned!

I do remember you posted a message like this early on in this (the DDF)
list. Are you gaining ground on this? I think there are a number (as we
have found in the CICDD list) of other web-sites and forums of people who
are more closely aligned with your I.R.R. objectives and agenda. This list
should concentrate on Direct Democracy with a completely reengineered
constitution and governmental system without representatives, but I
sincerely wish you well with your project. When I have time to complete the
restructure of the Direct Democracy Forum I will certainly include links to
your project.

The CICDD list spent some time proposing, but not deciding, names for three
brands of democracy with increasing degrees of citizen-sourced input and
control. (The following categories are not necessarily identical to those
listed on CICDD.)

Firstly, an enhancement of Representative Democracy through Citizens' (or
Community) Initiative and Referenda, and Recall. Possibly called IRR or
CIR. I suggest that you might call it "Citizens' Representative Democracy"
or merely "Citizens' Democracy".

Secondly, and in a kind of evolutionary link to Direct Democracy, we have
"Interactive Representative DirectDemocracy", which brings in the real-time
element, where anyone can in effect be a member of Parliament (or
Congress), but may alternately choose to assign a proxy to another voter on
any particular issue or all issues. The original voters' participation in a
vote automatically revokes that proxy. Interestingly, in the only (or
first)published manifestation of this model, proxies assigned are blind, in
that the recipient of a proxy is unaware of this and may assign his and all
those proxies he unknowingly holds to another who also will be unaware they
have received proxies. I have previously expressed my concerns that this
could or undoubtedly would lead to voters voting on behalf of potentially
millions of people, who fail to give the issue the consideration due should
they have realised the weight that would be given to his or her vote!

Thirdly, we have Direct Democracy, as proposed in this forum, where under
constitutional protections, all people in a community are entitled to full
participation as a member of the legislature on any issues they or others
may care to bring to a vote. Of course procedural guidelines will be
required, as will public and personal computer access, and a secure,
high-technology governmental system. These can be established by the people
as and whenever Direct Democracy approaches the levels of public support
whereby its adoption is possible or imminent.

There are a number of supporters, forums and websites at most of these
levels, some of which are particularly concerned with their own region in
the world. The Direct Democracy Forum is international, and is happy to
co-ordinate with like-minded groups who can best serve their own language
group in the fostering of Direct Democracy, such as the French Direct
Democracy group, and possibly the Italian group. There is much more avenue
for growth in this, as there is an enormous number of democracy groups
amongst Indonesians, and while I can correspond in Indonesian (do some
degree) others are best to lead Indonesian direct democracy. I also can
correspond in Esperanto (the international auxiliary or inter-language),
and this may be a practical way to include many other language groups in
the worldwide growth of Direct Democracy, and in particular this gives us
the potential reach to many Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Eastern European and
other people, not to mention those who already speak English and other
mega-languages.

The pending restructure of the Direct Democracy Forum website will include
links to these levels of democracy, including Representative Democracy, the
latter beginning in Australia and other parts of the English speaking world
(outside USA) for the simple reason that this is where we know best, and is
the community in which we oridinarily move, and excluding the USA, remains
to a degree unexploited on the Internet. (There is already sufficient www
resources to assist citizens to take a greater interest in and to provide
feedback to representative democracy in the United States.) Any other
person anywhere else in the world is very welcome to provide the resources
and materials for the equivalent coverage of every other nation in the
world.

Fourthly, we have a fundamentalist variant of Direct Democracy (which
appears to comprise some of the Italian Direct Democracy list subscribers),
and which fortunately now appears to have gained its own name, that of
"autonarchy"! The proponents of this appear to place "democratic"
participation as a right above other rights such as property, or
obligations such as contract, or employment, and without respect to the
degree of investment or responsibility attributable to parents, over
children, employers, investors, shareholders, over an enterprize, and so
on. Maybe this is not really what they are fighting for? See for yourselves
at www.autonarchy.org.il .

In summary:
#1> Representative Democracy (what most of our governments are today)
#2> Citizens' Democracy (Switzerland, and most of the western states of the
USA, and possibly some other countries.) I do not include British Columbia
(Canada) in this because of, as reported by Lorenzo Bouchard, the
capability and policy of the government to refuse to comply with Citizens'
demands despite their being CIR legislation (of some sort) enacted in the
province.
#3> Direct Democracy. (The primary object of this forum, and should be the
sole subject of this mailing list. Presently a theoretical concept.) * When
the DDF restructure is in place I will include on the web-site links to
mailing lists supporting each of these stages so that in this DDF mailing
list we only have to concern ourselves with pure Direct Democracy. As an
exception, and before these other lists are established, it is acceptable,
to post news about your efforts in #2 or #3, though not #1 unless you are
running for parliament in order to fight for Direct Democracy. An example,
is how we hear about Lorenzo's efforts, and of John Suhr's municipal
efforts, and of Triaka's People's Constitutional Convention. (It is a pity
that participation requires one's physical presence in Hawaii. Triaka, I
wonder if it would be possible for you to implement a means of full
participation via the Internet?)  An example of what we don't want in this
particular mailing list, is the conducting of the business of some of these
other efforts. This is why it has been helpful for the CICDD to be in
effect, off the list, by having its own separate list.
#4> Autonarchy.

Regards,
Ian Green
http://ao.com.au
iangreen@ao.com.au
Direct Democracy Forum
http://ao.com.au/ddf/

"Every person a member of the legislature!"

{NOTE. Ian Green wrongly thinks that the "People's proposal to renew democracy" formally represents the views of CICDD 'Continuing International Congress on Direct Democracy'. I clarify below.}
(...)
eGroups.com home: http://www.egroups.com/group/ddf
http://www.egroups.com - Simplifying group communications

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 19:18:59 +0200
To: ddf@egroups.com (Direct Democracy Forum)
From: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Subject: [ddf] People's proposal to renew democracy // Review of the CICDD discussion to date // Refocus on DDF principles.

Dear Ian and Friends,

Ian Green <iangreen@ao.com.au> wrote to <ddf@egroups.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999 23:39:57 +1000
>DDF subscribers who may not already receive the CICDD messages will be
>interested in your proposal as an indication of a fairly common (possibly
>the equilibrium) view on the 'Continuing International Congress on Direct
>Democracy' mailing list, and one that most *Direct Democracy* proponents
>consider helpful in the process of a gradual implementation of Direct
>Democracy.
>
>Michael, did your people eventually decide on a name for that brand of
>democracy which has both direct and representative components?

mjm: Just of the top of my head, how about "balanced democracy"?

Ian, there's been some misunderstanding. I know some of the people involved
in running and contributing to the CICDD project, e.g. Jiri Polak, Theodore
Becker, but I have no formal association with them. The "People's proposal
to renew democracy" is my own work. There's nothing original in it I think.
I tried to formulate it clearly, addressing the major points of contention,
hoping to produce a document which could inform, stimulate debate and help
to provide a basis for active and early reform. There is no reference to
policy (e.g. economic, health, justice, environment) in order to exclude or
suggest it - that would be up to the citizens themselves. I have learned
about DD etc. from the Mehr Demokratie people in FRG, from CICDD people and
from your list, as well as from my own reading. Assuming that this proposal
is good enough, then a critical point will be: How is it distributed, who
reads it? Are people enthusiastic enough to want to learn more, and tell
others? Outreach is essential but is, as the Germans say, bone work, very
time consuming.

(....)

>I do remember you posted a message like this early on in this (the DDF)
>list. Are you gaining ground on this?

mjm: It's early days. First version of the proposal was posted May 1999 and
the second only in mid-July. The response rate has been high, mostly
positive, some fully endorsive, coming from people of quite different
backgrounds (explicable because I approached them, writing to individuals,
to organisations and in tailored approaches to e-mail lists covering a
range of topics). There is a progress bulletin at
http://www.peoplesproposal.democracyforum.net/ , the second will follow
very soon - there will be some interesting questions and points to read
about.

Thanks for your outline of different forms of democracy. I want to include
it in the progress report mentioned above.

Wearing my citizen's hat,

Best wishes,

Michael.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 04:30:30 -0400
From: Jean-Paul BAQUIAST <jpbaquiast@compuserve.com>
Subject: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

Thank you for your text and proposal. May I publish this on admiroutes
(http://www.admiroutes.asso.fr). Baquiast

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: Jean-Paul BAQUIAST <jpbaquiast@compuserve.com>
From: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

Bonjour Jean-Paul Baquiast.

>Thank you for your text and proposal. May I publish this on admiroutes
>(http://www.admiroutes.asso.fr). Baquiast

*** Bien sur, et merci beaucoup. ***

Separately I send some news about early reactions to the proposal to renew democracy.

I visited admiroutes. Very interesting and creative. The "gestaltung" of the website resembles another proposal of mine - Open Forum. http://www.snafu.de/~mjm/offenes-forum.html (allemand) http://www.snafu.de/~mjm/prop2.html (anglais).
Until now I did not find enough local enthusiasm or support to develop the idea, which would require a cooperative team with professional competence.

On peut trouver un essai pertinent en français à http://www.snafu.de/~mjm/CP/cp2fr.html

Best wishes,

Michael Macpherson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
From: "Horace Mitchell"
To: "ISPO" <ispo@www.ispo.cec.be> {European Commission Information Society List}
Subject: RE: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 12:15:16 +0100
 

As a personal view, I'm in the camp that opposes the spread of referenda and
other forms of "direct democracy", for reasons that have been well rehearsed
here and elsewhere so I won't burden the network with repeating them!

Best wishes to all,

Horace Mitchell
deputy chair, UK Citizens Online Democracy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
From: "Nigel Leach"
To: "Michael Macpherson" <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>, <econ-lets@mailbase.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 20:58:18 +0100
 

>From Nigel Leach

To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
To: econ-lets@mailbase.ac.uk
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

An interesting idea on the above topic was floated in, I think, a John
Brunner sci fi book (in which, if my memory serves me right, he also first
mentioned computer "worms").
Anyway the idea is that every public place has screens showing the odds on
various outcomes - how long will the Govt last? - will the post office be
privatised? etc.. Citizens can bet on the outcomes and the more they bet
for or against something then the more likely it is to happen, or not. A
sort of constant, self funding, referrendum on a very wide range of
subjects. In the story all the profits from this went to a social welfare
organisation, a bit like the Samaritans.

Hope this is of interest
Best wishes
Nigel Leach

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
From: colin.millar
To: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
         (request for com ments 2)
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 11:13:48 +0100

Michael,

I think that this is a good idea to promote new forms of democratic
participation / accountability using the opportunities that ICT brings.
However, I am a bit concerned about the "Proposal" text as it only briefly
refers to a significant problem with the idea. It is of course the problem
of the inclusion of the total population in the ability to participate,
which if not addressed will nullify all attempts to get such suggestions
adopted.

Politicians will be very wary of any new ideas that are not seen to be
inclusive, and they will be very wary of placing power in the hands of the
vocal and able few. The words "a fair and reasonable percentage of the
population" are too ill-defined to be acceptable in a democracy. The powers
that you seek to shift from elected representatives to "the people" are too
significant for current politicians to give away without a very clear
understanding of the rules of engagement. Indeed, I think that not many
people will sign up to this Proposal because of the lack of clarity on these
issues.

May I suggest that when considering these issues that you might promote the
idea of "polymorphic access" ie using a diverse range of technologies in
parallel to promote the widest social inclusion in the process ie not just
using computer-mediated solutions, but the phone, traditional polling etc to
make participation independent of technology. It sounds a bit
counter-revolutionary, but I think we have to travel at a stepwise pace to
get it adopted, then as the more advanced capabilities are evaluated and
appreciated (and the "rules" ironed out and accepted) then the benefits to
all the people will accrue.

Also, in my view it is not acceptable to attempt to "lock-in" the voting
intentions of people under the banner of a single issue.

Please note that these views are personal and do not reflect the policies or
opinions of my employer.

Regards

Colin

Dr C A Millar

> -----Original Message-----
(....)
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 13:32:27 +0200
To: <conet@ukco.org.uk>
From: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
Subject: [CONet] People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)

[CONet is the discussion network of UK Communities Online]
 

Dear Colin and All,

Colin Millar (...) wrote
Mon, 19 Jul 1999 11:13:48:

>I think that this is a good idea to promote new forms of democratic
>participation / accountability using the opportunities that ICT brings.
>However, I am a bit concerned about the "Proposal" text as it only briefly
>refers to a significant problem with the idea. It is of course the problem
>of the inclusion of the total population in the ability to participate,
>which if not addressed will nullify all attempts to get such suggestions
>adopted.

mjm: No-one of voting age is excluded from contributing to citizen
initiative and referendum. Usually only registered voters may vote. As I
wrote in "proposal to renew democracy ", ICT is not essential, but IMO it
could help to make initiatives known and refined, with deliberation and
voting.

>
>Politicians will be very wary of any new ideas that are not seen to be
>inclusive, and they will be very wary of placing power in the hands of the
>vocal and able few. The words "a fair and reasonable percentage of the
>population" are too ill-defined to be acceptable in a democracy. The powers
>that you seek to shift from elected representatives to "the people" are too
>significant for current politicians to give away without a very clear
>understanding of the rules of engagement. Indeed, I think that not many
>people will sign up to this Proposal because of the lack of clarity on these
>issues.

mjm: Some politicians, a minority I guess, are in favour of introducing
citizen initiative and referendum, some against. If these reforms must
depend on achieving a majority in parliament, then those who want the
innovations need to elect only those candidates who will support the idea
and its implementation - see "Rider" at the end of the proposal.

BTW, is there right now any legal hindrance to my suggestion "Have a
referendum for the right to referenda!" ?

Please don't forget the the proposal until now is part of a request for
comments "rfc2". There is no decision about how best to take the proposal
forward - suggestions are very welcome. I hope that people across Britain
and Europe will talk about these ideas - remembering that they are already
well established practice in a number of countries - with friends, family
and in organisations. Early reactions to the proposal suggest that this
will happen.

The section from which Colin cites is:

"We the undersigned propose that a law be passed in parliament which enables
and provides finance for the following forms of democracy at all levels of
government from local to national, these forms of democracy to be initiated
by a fair and reasonable percentage of the population, with decisions being
made by an appropriate majority of voters:"

Citizen initiative and referendum are almost unknown in Britain. The
problems which Colin identifies have already been solved elsewhere. The
aspects which Colin sees as ill-defined were deliberately left open by me.
These and other choices need to be made in an informed way. That is why I
propose that a report about options for democracy should be prepared at an
early stage of the public debate. If parliament or government agree to
organise this - maybe as a Green Paper - fine, if not (or as well) then IMO
others should do it. Such a report would provide a basis for a more
informed debate and could lead to definitive proposals about how to
introduce citizen initiative and referendum, or to reject them.

As a very rough indication, we could have in Britain:

CITIZENS' LAW INITIATIVE requires 50,000 supporters whose valified
signatures are collected rapidly after registration of the Initiative.
Assuming parliament rejects the law initiative, or does not react within 6
months, then a proposal for referendum may be started.

PROPOSAL FOR REFERENDUM requires 500,OOO supporters collected within one
year - or a year and a day ;-)

REFERENDUM - all registered voters have the right to vote - usually
straight majority decision. Fundamental or "constitutional" issues may by
prior agreement require a larger majority (say two thirds).

>Also, in my view it is not acceptable to attempt to "lock-in" the voting
>intentions of people under the banner of a single issue.
(....)

mjm: Where participation (beyond voting once every few years) is part of
democratic culture people are more attentive to public affairs. If there
are problems which governments are not managing well or have ignored then
an agreed number of citizens may put selected issues on the public agenda.
Focussing on one issue at a time seems sensible - that's the same in
parliament. Colin is worried about manipulation of voters, e.g. because of
"placing power in the hands of the vocal and able few". Parliaments are
manipulated by 'interest groups', barons of industry, commerce and mass
media. In a citizen-initiated referendum, all constituents can represent
themselves. Many have learnt to be wary of "the vocal and able few".

Wearing my citizen's hat,

Sincerely,

Michael Macpherson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 16:28:27 BST
Subject: Re: People's proposal to renew democracy (request for comments 2)
To: Michael Macpherson <mjm@berlin.snafu.de>
From: (Alister Scott)

Michael

Thanks for the message via Irnes. I support the initiative -
these referenda work well in Switzerland and would help
break up the monolithic 'vote every five years' system.
There is a growing body of research that shows that
re-connecting people with decisions about issues such as
the environment is actually the most effective way of
getting better policy.

Let me know how your proposal gets on.

Alister Scott
University of Sussex

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Envelope-to: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
From: Jay.Moor@unchs.org {UNO Habitat}S
Organization: UN-Gigiri
To: mjm@berlin.snafu.de
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 15:40:50 +0300
Subject: People's Proposal
 

For: Mr. Michael Macpherson

Dear Michael,

Once in a while, ideas come along which might make a great difference in the
way political power is balanced.  The concepts of initiative, referendum and
recall arose a century ago in the USA  out of the Progressive Movement to
clean up local government, which at that time was more corrupt than a very
corrupt national government.  Since then, these tools have been used sparingly
in various of the United States, probably because they are quite difficult to
invoke, requiring many signatures, non-intervention by law-makers (who can
offer substitutes to achieve the "same" result), etc.  Nonetheless, they were
breakthrough corrective measures for some of the worst ills of democracy.

I am happy you are proposing that similar instruments be considered now, at
the same time devolution and democracy are being promoted around the world.
 My personal opinion is that your concept, or something similar, ought to be
put forward during the preparatory process for Istanbul + 5, which begins in
October 1999 and culminates in June 2001 when the UN General Assembly
reviews progress being made in implementing the Habitat Agenda.

One of the instruments being promoted by local authorities with the assistance
of Habitat, for consideration by UN Member States, is a World Charter on Local
Self-Governance.   Your People's Proposal would, in my mind, make an
essential companion piece -- or complement -- to that Charter.  One way of
introducing it would be offer it as an instrument for discussion by the Habitat II
partner groups during the Istanbul + 5 preparatory process.

A letter from a UN-accredited NGO umbrella group (like the Housing
International Coalition -- HIC) to our Acting Director, Dr. Klaus Toepfer, may
start the ball rolling.

You can obtain background information on the Habitat Agenda and our partner
groups from the UNCHS websites <www.unhabitat.org>  <www.unchs.org>
<www.UrbanObservatory.org>  Each of these will soon have links to a home
page on the Istanbul + 5 process.

With best wishes,

Jay

PS I would appreciate being kept informed of your progress.
=======================
Jay Moor, Coordinator
The Global Urban Observatory
UNCHS (Habitat)
Telephone:  (254-2)623693/623694/623184
e-mail:    jay.moor@unchs.org
website: http://www.UrbanObservatory.org
======================

Earlier comments
Request for comments - list of respondents and replies
 


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