Democracy after Scotland's independence referendum
mm at iniref.org
Wed Mar 11 11:21:25 GMT 2015
Malcolm Harvey writes in The Herald (Scotland)
Should we have more referendums to boost participation in the political
He starts, "The staggering democratic success of September's
independence referendum, in which 85 per cent of the Scottish electorate
cast a ballot, bucked the trend of falling participation in politics."
Dr Harvey is a research fellow at the Centre for Constitutional Change
and the University of Aberdeen.
INIREF, the Campaign for Direct Democracy, replies:
Most people consider that voting once every few years for (the promises
of) politicians is a poor way to take part in public decisions which may
deeply affect their own lives. In contrast, repeated surveys across the
UK have shown that over seven out of ten adults agree that a large
number of voters should be able to propose and instigate a referendum
even if the ruling parties are aganst it.
The Power Inquiry (report 2006) looked in great detail at how people
relate to politics and public affairs. They found that most people,
including the young who take part less and less in conventional
politics, are not apathetic about common affairs. In a survey of people
who intend NOT to vote in elections, a majority said that they would
take part in referenda.
Prof. Graham Smith, a political scientist, looked at "57 varieties" of
political participation and found that the methods of direct democracy
were the most effective. These methods include the citizens' law
proposal and the citizen-instigated referendum. An outline of how these
might work in Scotland may be found in an on-line forum here
In suggesting that there might be more referendums Malcolm Harvey does
not show how this could be done in ways which people can trust because
they are effective. Allowing leading politicians to use referendum as
their own tool, when they decide on the proposition, the wording and the
timing, does not produce good and effective democracy. The electorate
should be able to initiate a binding referendum and to call an optional
ballot to veto unwanted government policies.
Michael Macpherson (Dr.) for
I&R ~ GB Citizens' Initiative and Referendum
Campaign for direct democracy in Britain
http://www.iniref.org/steps.html Basic presentation
http://www.iniref.org/carta.htm Election campaign call
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