16 votes

What does an "optimal" democratic system look like to you?

this is kind of an offshoot of this thread which is still going, because i'm noticing an interesting pattern in that thread of reform to the system going beyond just the voting age, and i think it's worth examining that in much broader, larger details than just being centered around how people respond to the idea of voting age because democracy is very multi-dimensional. here are a few questions to jump off of; feel free to utilize them or not utilize them as you wish.

(let's also assume that there are no constraints whatsoever, for maximum possibility here. essentially, you get to invent a system that is utilized by people on the spot regardless of how things are currently for them.):

  • Is this democratic system liberal, like most are (or perhaps illiberal in the service of some greater aim like climate change)?
  • What variety of democracy is utilized by the system? (there are a lot of these ranging from classic representative democracy to direct democracy to soviet-style council democracy to sortition to more esoteric things like cellular, grassroots, and liquid democracy. see wikipedia for more)
  • What voting method (FPTP, IRV, preferential voting, etc. again see wikipedia), is used by the system, if any? Or are things done mostly or largely without voting where possible, as is true in participatory, deliberative and consensus democracies and similar systems?
  • Are formal political parties allowed in this system?
  • Is voting in this system compulsory?
  • Are certain people in this system (criminals, older people, younger people, certain groups or professions of people perhaps even) disenfranchised?
  • Does the government have a hand in educating people on voting in this system, or is it the civic duty of people instead, or is there some in between, or even neither? What does that education look like?

and, if you'd like to get particularly esoteric or wonky, you might also choose to answer or consider some of these:

  • Are voters allowed to do things like recall their representatives, or is the will of the people binding for a term?
  • Does democracy in this system extend to even things like cabinet positions, which in most systems are determined by the head of state?
  • Does democracy in this system include things like amendments to constitutions?

6 comments

  1. mrnd
    Link
    The natural area of politics is the local, the city, the municipality. The big problem with current democracies is not really the technicalities of counting votes (though improving them would be...

    The natural area of politics is the local, the city, the municipality.

    The big problem with current democracies is not really the technicalities of counting votes (though improving them would be good start). The problem is the centralized assumption that only the highest level of elections matters (usually the presidential election).

    Most people don't really know or even care about the things president can (or should be able to...) do.

    This leads to populism and low turnouts.

    The political system needs to grow from bottom up, not up to bottom. At low communal level are the things that actually matter to people the most, and they should have the focus of politics.

    People vote in municipal elections. The municipal council chooses representatives for the area council and so on. Each council can choose how they operate, but often it would make sense to use referendums. They're also allowed to choose when to change their representatives on the higher level.

    The councils handle the day to day issues relevant to their level. In important moral issues, citizens' assemblies are used.

    Everyone over certain age has a vote (the 16 sounds reasonable). Beyond that, most details would be up the councils to decide what fits then. I don't imagine parties having a formal role in this, but they would probably exist. Campaign funding would be highly limited to avoid the effects of money in politics.

    Ideally the council's could also freely associate to form the upper level groupings, but that might be beyond this topic.

    10 votes
  2. [2]
    Tum
    (edited )
    Link
    My ideal representative democracy: The notion is that government should be a) representative of citizens and their views and b) have a broad mandate to act, to which they are held to account at...

    My ideal representative democracy: The notion is that government should be a) representative of citizens and their views and b) have a broad mandate to act, to which they are held to account at the next election. The second idea is that that there is no such thing as an unimportant (but maybe unnecessary) law and that you use transparency to hold the existing government to account and make change.


    The following is supreme law and protected by a 2/3 parliamentary supermajority. All other laws may be enacted or repealed with a simple 1/2 majority.

    Function of Parliament

    • An accountable Westminster style Parliament, where MPs form the basis of responsible government. In instances where the public cannot know details of a case (such as intelligence etc), the use of information is accountable to parliament; whose members are protected by parliamentary privilege.

    • Parliament is sovereign, giving government a broad mandate to pursue their agenda (and have nothing to hide behind if it doesn't work); also meaning the Judiciary isn't politicised and so is broadly independent with the expectation they will judge as the law was written, not as they think it should be written.

    • MMP, being proportionate across the country, but filled with electorate MPs first. This helps to keep parliament representative to electorates as well as to the broader country without the need for an upper house.

    Restrictions on Parliament

    • The maximum term of Parliament;
    • The system used to elect;
    • The number and composition of electorates

    Rights of Citizens

    • Universal suffrage;
    • All laws, their jurisdiction, and precedence must be made known to all citizens
    • The right of citizens to petition:
      a) jurisdiction and precedence of proposed laws
      b) referenda to enact proposed laws
    5 votes
    1. mike10010100
      Link Parent
      I like this a lot. I've recently begun to think that a Parliamentary-style system, when combined with a ranked voting or other non-FPTP system would lead to a far more stable democracy. People...

      I like this a lot. I've recently begun to think that a Parliamentary-style system, when combined with a ranked voting or other non-FPTP system would lead to a far more stable democracy. People wouldn't feel like their votes mean nothing due to the 2-party nature of a FPTP voting system, and they would care a hell of a lot more about the workings of their local town and representative.

      1 vote
  3. vakieh
    Link
    Democracy makes decisions based on the populace. Trying to come up with an optimal democracy without taking into account the populace is like trying to come up with the best recipe for a meal but...

    Democracy makes decisions based on the populace. Trying to come up with an optimal democracy without taking into account the populace is like trying to come up with the best recipe for a meal but ignoring the quality of the ingredients. You're just pissing into the wind.

    The 'perfect' democracy would be one with completely direct democracy and a universally educated populace. The optimal democracy is one where a sufficiently educated populace makes informed decisions about who to represent them at whatever level. Honestly the system itself is an utterly distant second to that. You'll beat any system you want to describe with a random system with a better voting population.

    2 votes
  4. Hypersapien
    Link
    This is more an aspect of the legal system than the electoral system, but I'd like to see a declared list of functions that laws can serve. Such as protecting individual safety (while not...

    This is more an aspect of the legal system than the electoral system, but I'd like to see a declared list of functions that laws can serve. Such as protecting individual safety (while not overriding personal liberty), property protection, environmental protection, etc... And if a law can be shown to not be serving any of those functions, it can be ruled unenforceable (either in a specific case or in general). This prevents society from having to wait for bad laws to be repealed, especially if those laws are being held in place by money and politics.

    1 vote
  5. Amarok
    Link
    Here's a thought. Enter office, lose all of your worldly wealth - you are now a monk and a ward of the state operating almost at the level of a prisoner. This is a job you only take if you have an...

    Here's a thought.

    Enter office, lose all of your worldly wealth - you are now a monk and a ward of the state operating almost at the level of a prisoner. This is a job you only take if you have an overabundance of compassion and lack of greed, hopefully. You don't have a wallet or bank account. You do have a pretty badass flexible spending account, though. You spend the state's money.

    After your strictly limited term, the people vote on your performance. You are punished (up to and including firing squad) or rewarded (lavishly) based on both the thorough investigation and documentation of your tenure (aided by the camera stapled to your head) and the voting results people put forward from your performance. It is equally hard to get the lavish reward and the firing squad - most people just get a very, very generous payment and retire, or life in prison for corruption - all are barred for life from politics and any industries that even have the whiff of a conflict of interest after their tenure.

    Think that might get the psychopaths out? I saw it suggested in some random fantasy novel once and I laughed. It doesn't really fit into your narrative there, rather it compliments the other suggestions with heavy enforcement.