Mark Barrett marknbarrett at googlemail.com
Mon Jun 6 12:45:06 BST 2011

Because we need a street level social movement to get the debate going !
Real Democracy Now must spread to the UK. The one in Spain btw is a broad
coalition of activists and ordinary people, united under one banner and a
means of taking decisions (horizontally, democratically, via the people's
assembly process) there are anarchists and reformists all under one roof,
they all see the ideal of "real democracy" differently but they are talking
and listening to each other, and forcing the debate ( eg El Publico link at
http://www.publico.es/espana/380220/21-ideas-inspiradas-en-el-15-m and
translated by google translate into English below )

Time to get stuck into the movement and make it happen here in the UK.
Watch www.peopleassemblies.org for more info on how to in the coming

"The most enthusiastic about the Movement 15-M are confident that it has
activated a spring capable of changing the course of history, no matter what
happens in the Puerta del Sol or at least condition it. Sceptics believe
instead that the 15-M and is languishing in the absence of concrete results
and we enter a new phase: the infighting that left so well known.

But bearing wear glasses, just watching enthusiasts and skeptics necessarily
the same: thousands of young people and people of all ages to participate in
meetings in crowded places shattering the stereotypes of sheep or ni-nis. And
with a ravenous appetite for new proposals for improving democracy and

Many of these proposals or drafts in fact already exist. Public has spoken
with a dozen political scientists, sociologists and experts, has dived by
research and has selected 21 concrete proposals that connect with the
priorities of Real Democracy Now (DRY) and assemblies.

"There are no miracle formulas or recipes turnkey," says Joan Subirats,
Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. But there are insights
and realities. What follows is a catalog that is not intended to be
comprehensive or "miracle", but pick up ideas which are being applied
elsewhere or who are already very mature after years of struggling in
college or even in Congress. These are just ideas. And to implement them
comes almost free.

01 more proportional electoral law
Proposal: more proportional system that does not nullify the voice of the

Difficulty: reform requires a basic law and the Constitution of 1978.

Proposals for DRY and Sun stands a requirement: to reform the Electoral Act
to make it more proportional and give more opportunities for smaller

Experts agree that this reform alone will not fix the problems of democracy,
but for years managed alternative models that would lead to an improvement
in the current system that overrepresented rural vote and the majority
forces: in 2008, IU needed almost 485,000 to get seats, when the PP and PSOE
cost him 66,000. In total, two million people voted lists that were not
represented (see chart on page 4).

Although the responsibility is usually attributed to the D'Hondt system used
for the allocation of seats the culprit is actually the size of a thirty
constituencies, which the Constitution should be the province that are too
small for the distribution reaches the minority.

Many of the alternative formulas are based on the German model, combining
proportionality and territorial vote: the vote for a party list with a
single constituency and also a territorial deputy. To enter the national
distribution is required to overcome the 5%, but nothing would stop lowering
the threshold.

02 Open lists
Proposal: allow the voter to choose who to vote for a list.

Difficulty: reform requires a basic law, which requires an absolute

Regardless of how you assign the number of seats, another debate is the
scope given to the voter to select or veto the members that make up a
list. Spain
has the most restrictive option, closed and blocked list. Is prepared by the
party and the voter has to accept in full.

This means, for example, a Valencia citizen wishing to support the PP in the
regional final had to vote to all those accused of the ballot. If the list
is unlocked, have the option of voting for the PP and cross out the

The formulas are mixed and applied in many countries. Dan Kselman, Juan
March Institute, has shown that corruption is easier where the lists are
closed and locked.


03 primary elections for candidates
Proposal: select candidates through open primaries to all of society.

Difficulty: must be borne by the parties controlling apparatus.

The parties elect their leaders and candidates as they wish: they are only
obliged to respect a democratic appearance. But experts say this partly
explains the low level of membership in Spain and its problems connecting
with society.

Experts and Braulio Gómez, University of Edinburgh, including the primary
stress that the PSOE has in its statutes have fallen short and the CIS gives
the reason: most believe that any society should be able to participate in
the election of candidates (see chart on page 4).

This is already possible in countries like the U.S., where anyone can
register to participate in the party primary. In Spain tried Pasqual
Maragall in 1999.

04 Revocation of mandate
Proposal: to give voters the opportunity to recall an elected official.

Difficulty: demands reform of the Constitution and has better fit in a
presidential regime.

In some countries, elected representatives are at risk of having to pass a
state exam at midterm. And if they fail, they lose the job.

Thus came the Government of California Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003,
citizens critical of the then governor, Gray Davis, managed to gather the
required signatures to convoke a recall referendum despite the fact that
Davis had been reelected in 2002 and won.

This possibility (recall, in English) is planned in 18 U.S. states and in
countries like Venezuela and Bolivia. And can also be applied against

In California, to force a recall referendum is needed to gather signatures
equivalent to 12% of voters who participated in previous elections. In
Spain, besides causing the reluctance of many experts, who fear that
lobbyists use it for personal gain, it is more difficult to apply to be a
parliamentary regime. In addition, Members are guaranteed a seat for four
years in the Constitution.

05 popular initiative and referendum
Proposal: easing restrictions for citizens to promote binding referenda or
legislative initiatives.

Difficulty: demands reform of the Constitution.

On paper, the public can participate in building the political agenda
through referendums and popular legislative initiative (ILP), which allows
making proposals to the cameras.

But in practice, the limitations are much higher than those in other
countries: the initiative to hold referendums for the Government and
non-binding. And the ILP require many firms (500,000) and also have blocked
many issues, such as those regulated by an organic law (fundamental rights,
statutes of autonomy ...). The aim of DRY to force the reform of the
Electoral Act by ILP is impossible precisely because it affects an organic

In countries like the USA and Switzerland, among others, the initiative
referendum is not held by the authorities, but of citizens. And there are
queries continuously binding. However, some experts warn that this model
also has drawbacks because, in practice, people with more money usually also
have more ability to collect signatures and campaign financing.

06 Participatory Budgeting
Proposal: To facilitate public participation in decision-making between

Difficulty: some of the most advanced projects in Spain have been suspended
after the 22-M.

Faced with the option of voting every four years and nothing else,
participatory budgeting has experimented for years as a way complementary to
encourage democratic participation. They started in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in
the 1990's and have been greatly extended, especially at the municipal

The idea is that the authorities put to public debate on what particular
items of investment spending. Critics warn that the newly organized groups
conducting meetings for their own benefit. Sevilla was the largest city in
Europe which practiced forms of participatory budgeting, but the defeat now
leaves left in abeyance.


07 Memories of participation
Proposal: Include in public policy and share memories of accountability.

Difficulty: none.

Any development or major infrastructure must have an environmental impact
report. The experts share new ways of seeking to replicate the model for
participation and accountability, so that any public policy should be raised
from its origin which opens channels of participation and how it will
account for the fact it is finished.

Barcelona was a reference in participatory memories, but its promoters lost
the election. In memory of accountability, is here all done. So much so that
even the term accountability seems a good translation of accountability.

08 Tips deliberative
Proposal: involvement of citizens in making political decisions.

Difficulty: none.

In France it is called National Public Debate Commission and national issues
facing the UK and is known as citizen jury and depends on local councils. The
philosophy is the same: to give citizens a council decision making against a
particular matter.

The experts call it deliberative democracy and the members usually selected
by lottery, with criteria as those applied plurality TVE I have a question
for you.

In Ontario (Canada) was undertaken by a council nothing less than electoral
reform. In Spain there have been trials in Córdoba, but not binding.

09 Transparency Act
Proposal: to approve a law that obliges the government to release all
information they have.

Difficulty: none.

Info Access is an international NGO that defends the rights of citizens to
access information of public interest in government hands and in 2006, chose
Madrid as the world headquarters. Why? Spain is the largest country in the
EU without Transparency Act (see chart).

Such laws already exist in the U.S. since the 1960's, forcing the
authorities to answer any citizen questions like: Which company has
contracted the Department of Health for the cleanliness of their hospitals
and how much money?

Experts see this type of rule as a key anti-corruption element. In Spain,
this information is channeled to parliamentary questions, but governments
have plenty of tricks to ignore.

The executive promised to end the Spanish anomaly, but the project is
stalled. Some countries, like India, placed on the Internet all the
information on their own initiative. This current is fed advocates call free
culture, whose priority is to repeal the law Sinde.

10 The accounts of the royal house
Proposal: to make public the accounts of the Crown.

Difficulty: obstruction of the major parties.

Exist in Spain eight public institutions and the State Council with
financial autonomy and without external control. But none go as far as the
Royal House, which receives an annual allocation without having to explain
how it is spent.

In 2010, this allocation amounted to EUR 8.9 million and covers only a
fraction of the public money dedicated to the institution, whose total
amount is unknown. ERC has denounced the Court in Strasbourg the opacity of
the accounts of the monarchy.

Nothing in the Constitution that prevents the Crown accounts were as
transparent as the British monarchy: "The king receives from the state
budget a lump sum for the upkeep of his family and house, and distributes it
freely," reads Article 65. 1.


11 Access to the accounts of the parties
Proposal: real audit of the accounts of parties and public access.

Difficulty: demands reform of the Organic Law of the Court of Auditors.

Whenever a scandal that affects the accounts of political parties, the
answer is identical: "Our budgets have passed all inspections by the Court
of Auditors."

It's true. But it is also a catch: the audit of the Court of Auditors is
limited to working with the material that the parties provide no real audit
capacity and unable to access the guts or the foundations of the parties.

All of these deficits are highlighted regularly by the Council of Europe. The
information received by the Court of Auditors is also reserved: No one can
afford even the list of party suppliers. The only watchdog that allows is
that of Galicia.

12 The assets of politicians, public
Proposal: Publication of the full heritage of all elected officials.

Difficulty: none. Already exists in Castilla-La Mancha.

Corruption experts believe is key to access the entire estate office. Several
institutions have taken steps, but partially.

The only exception is Castilla-La Mancha, who has opted for maximum
transparency in this regard, published in the Official Gazette on all
incomes entire estate, all investments, all goods, all activities of
deputies and officials, including Chair.

13 full-time Deputies
Proposal: to prevent parliamentarians can have a private law firm.

Difficulty: none. A majority of parties supported the idea, but does not

Any MP can reconcile parliamentary business today with a private firm and
other paid activities. Just say no serious conflict of interest. More than
40 parliamentarians concur with private business activity.

That there are deep gaps has highlighted the case Gürtel, which unveiled the
parallel activities of the PP and accused former deputy Jesus Merino, as the
tax office, between 2002 and 2008 became a parliamentary less than 500,000
euros. In the same period, his consulting and his wife totaled 8.4 million
to firms advising.

14 Political unprivileged
Proposal: eliminate pension privileges of Members and to set clear criteria
for official cars.

Difficulty: none. Most parties accepts that "streamlining."

When democracy was restored, it was agreed that parliamentarians have the
right to receive the maximum pension with only eight years of contributions.
And the argument seemed good to the world: The Franco regime had prevented
many contributions.

But it's been over 30 years and the parliamentarians who voted to expand
from 15 to 25 years of computation for calculating pensions continue to
enjoy that decision.

The presidents of the Government and, with variations, in several other
communities enjoy privilege, a life pension of 80,000 euros per year. The
left wants to eliminate a minority when they perceive other important
private profit. José María Aznar in 2010 income received over one million
euros and Felipe González receives, only Natural Gas, 126,000 euros per

UPyD The decision to abandon the official car for his council has forced the
debate. All parties must recognize that "streamlined." Experts back to set
objective criteria.

15 Corruption without prescription
Proposal: remove the requirement for the crimes of corruption.

Difficulty: demands reform of the Penal Code and other organic laws.

Most crimes of corruption have been punished more harshly whenever the Penal
Code. And despite that many crimes without trial just because they have
prescribed. Experts like Victor Lapuente of the University of Go-temburgo
argue that Spain leads probably an informal ranking of crimes of corruption
are not judged by time-barred.

Among the causes, highlighted the saturation of the Justice and here is
usually initiated to investigate later. Thus, the measures suggested by some
experts in line with DRY is that corruption offenses not required.


16 Limits on Gifts
Proposal: to establish that any gift over $ 50 undeclared be considered

Difficulty: requires amending the Criminal Code.

Some of the biggest corruption cases that have erupted in Spain in recent
years and Brugal Gürtel have originally gifts to elected officials. The key
to be considered bribery does not depend on its value, but they give away by
reason of or in exchange for something. Lapuente proposes to cut their
losses and include interpretative ambiguity in the Penal Code that any gift
valued at more than 50 euros a hypothetical undeclared record containing the
identity of the giver is considered bribery. Now there is no record, even
for gifts to the Royal Family.

17 Some ERE, without public money
Proposal: companies with profits to start an ERE must pay unemployment of
those dismissed.

Difficulty: requires legal reform and on track.

Was already proposed DRY and the left had long peleándolo minority, but the
ERE announced by Telefónica filled squares have finished inflame the
indignant: a requirement that companies with profits to open a record of
employment regulation ( ERE) have to pay the dismissed unemployment has
become an emblem of the 15-M and probably will be their first tangible

The suit has a social support so high that Telefónica has rethought the ERE,
despite having the law in favor: take the unemployment rate among laid-off
state will not pay. The PSOE has tabled an amendment to make this decision
now voluntary mandatory.

18 foreclosed housing
Proposal: that the supply of floor and cancel the mortgage debt to the bank.

Difficulty: demands reform of the Mortgage Law, which will be discussed in a
subcommittee of Congress.

Another symbolic demands of 15-M is the payment in kind: as the supply of
flat cancel the debt with the bank, as in several U.S. states.

In Spain, when developing hucio, the bank gets the floor and the customer
has to keep paying. In this unequal exchange, which is set much is the
outstanding debt, the bank recorded the floor returned to a dirt cheap
price: 50% of the appraisal. And then you can sell at the price you want.

The management has warned in a letter to the Government to the payment in
kind would be a great loss for the financial system. But social pressure is
being collected 500,000 signatures for a popular legislative initiative has
forced the creation of a parliamentary subcommittee.

Among the proposals of the experts is to take payment in kind without
retroactivity, provide support for those affected and to raise from 50% to
75% the percentage of the price of the appraisal when the bank gets the

Record 19 anti-tax haven
Proposal: Establish a minimum registration to help continue the thread of
money into tax havens.

Difficulty: any effective initiative must be international.

Many experts agree that the solution to the crisis, the future of the
welfare state, the fight against corruption and the very essence of
democracy depend largely on making it more difficult to get money to tax
havens. And although progress has been made by the pressure of G-20, there
is much ground to cover.

Experts also emphasize that the measures to be effective, must be global or
at least at European level. And here are almost all proposals of a recent
document prepared by the Fundación Alternativas José Luis Escario: creation
of a specific global agency, establish multilateral sanctions against states
that do not cooperate with a minimum that should be redefined upward, etc . But
the document includes a suggestion that could be implemented without waiting
for others: to create a register of companies much more comprehensive than
the existing ones, to include information relevant to keep track of money
and do less opaque structures.

Rate 20 'Tobin'
Proposal: to establish a rate for speculative financial transactions.

Difficulty: to be effective, should be adopted internationally.

40 years ago that the Nobel laureate in economics James Tobin proposed a
minimum rate of only 0.1% for speculative financial transactions. And in the
late nineties created an international organization, Attac very present in
the Movement 15-M, which was set as a priority to promote a proposal that
for years has resolved and any technical difficulties.

The G-20 has amagado with rates boost inspired by Tobin's proposal. But
nothing has been implemented.

21 Fair Taxation
Proposed: retrieving estate taxes and estate and tax plus sicav and

Difficulty: that, given the free movement of capital, lower tax revenues.

All children del15-M has released a cry to get a fairer tax system, which
retraces the path of recent years and re-established in order to pay more
than the haves. There are several possibilities: to recover the wealth tax
(eliminated in 2008) and inheritance (almost finalized in the communities
where it governs the right), further burdening the sicavel investment
vehicle of the wealthy, which is only taxed at 1% or appraise all dividends,
are now exempt from taxation 1,500 euros per taxpayer per year.

Many experts believe that a fairer tax system will depend on the
sustainability of the welfare state. Armin Schäfer E researchers and have
even shown that inequality is a major factor in erosion of democracy.

Perhaps the campers have not studied it. But no doubt they know.

On 6 June 2011 12:34, <mm at iniref.org> wrote:

> Below an example of useful debate
> Direct Democracy: The Right to Referendum* E-mail* Facebook* Twitter*
> LinkedIn* Redditby
> Jonathan Victory
> The extent of our democratic voice is to vote once every few years for
> people from a very narrow range of backgrounds, who have to think in the
> short-term in order to be re-elected, even though their job is to
> legislate for long-term problems. In the intervening years they can
> literally do whatever they like without any further referral to what
> citizens want. ....
> 'We the Citizens' is an independent national initiative that aims to
> show how Ireland could benefit by citizens coming together in new ways
> of public ..."
> more:
> http://www.wethecitizens.ie/talk/article/direct_democracy_the_right_to_referendum
> ---------------
> a comment by
> I&R ~ GB Citizens' Initiative and Referendum
> Campaign for direct democracy in Britain
> http://www.iniref.org/

Apathy is Dead !
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