Direct democracy for the United Kingdom? Elites sceptical!

MM mm at
Thu Jul 30 14:09:13 BST 2015

*Direct democracy for the United Kingdom? Elites sceptical!*

Direct democracy DD is currently (July 2015) receiving increased 
attention in Britain partly because of the highly popular scottish 
independence referendum (September 2014) and the promised ballot about 
membership of the European Union. Also several candidates for political 
office have shown support for DD. The candidates are, for mayor of 
London (to replace Boris Johnson) Andrew Boff and Zac Goldsmith, plus a 
candidate to lead the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

So we can expect that the press and other mass media will publish a few 
items about direct democracy.

One such item appears 30th July on the web site of Democratic Audit DA, 
a team of political analysts specialised in reporting on quality of 
governance in many countries. In our experience DA has taken the 
widespread élitist line of opposition to DD for the UK.

Here is their introduction to a piece about DD by a doctoral student in 
Berlin, Germany.

/"The UK has seen a spate of referendums since 1997, with the public 
being consulted on the creation of new mayoralties, parliaments, 
assemblies, voting systems, and soon our membership of the European 
Union. But does direct democracy have the potential to engage those who 
are currently disinterested in politics? //*Arndt Leninger*//argues that 
while it is popular with engaged  in politics already it will do little 
to engage the disengaged." /

INIREF has posted the following comment at DA's web site: so far our 
comment has not been published but is awaiting "moderation".


Direct democracy DD is not just a series of one-off events such as a 
referendum. Having DD implies that the political unit (country, state, 
city etc.) accepts that all citizens are equally entitled to exercise 
their power and that political power -- sovereignty in the state -- 
belongs to and may be applied by the people. The electorate can call a 
ballot to veto unwanted government law or policy. Good ideas and 
grievances can be formulated in proposals which can be placed by 
"citizens' initiative" on the public agenda and also put to ballot. 
These processes do not replace parl. and gov. but rather enhance and 
finely tune governance. People will become involved if they can see that 
an issue is important for them -- note the massive and enthusiastic 
participation in the recent scots independence debate and referendum.

Surveys show that most people perceive low control over elected 
officials and bodies. Trust in politicians and government is low and 
probably still sinking. Having elements of direct democracy in the UK, 
countries and localities, would improve quality of governance and other 
factors such as sense of community.

Campaign for direct democracy in Britain
Citizens' Initiative and Referendum I&R ~ GB Link to site index

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