A new framework is seen to be evolving over the next few generations involving the practice of democracy. This framework confirms the first principle of a democracy to insure that each individual is adequately represented in the governance of a society. The essential elements of this new framework would include:
Elections would be held as usual in each riding with legislated election dates. Candidates would put their name forward, not by parties, but in a “primary” type process in each riding to select potential representatives in a predetermined jurisdiction. This process could be as simple as a community meeting, or could encompass a full process of nominations by potential candidates, campaigning to discuss principles and policy directions, primary selection for residents to nominate at least the top two candidates for the election in the respective ridings, then electing the person considered the best overall in a general election. All these resulting individual elections from the ridings in the jurisdiction would make up the legislature or parliament
At least two individual candidates for overall leadership in the particular society would nominate, campaign, stand for primary selection and be voted on by the total voting population of the jurisdiction in a general election. The leader with the most votes overall would be the Premier, President or Prime Minister presiding over a chamber of individuals elected by the voting population of each riding without any political affiliation.
Legislative committees would be formed as structured currently but with regional representation replacing political party representation. There would be a process structured to obtain legitimate on-going feedback from the voting population by way of electronic plebiscites, simple ballots or surveys completed at various phases of the policy debate. As well, elected riding candidates would structure town halls and forums for local discussion on issues and policies of the day. There would be an opportunity as a result of this transition to allow for the appointment of “experts” in the various subject areas as members of the governing Cabinet rather than draw necessarily from the ranks of those elected in the ridings. This would permit the delivery of another dimension to strengthen the decision making process while still maintaining key input from the elected body in the legislative process and committee standing. It would also further the intent of separation of daily governance from the legislative process. A number of conditions would need to be considered to ensure this non-political process did not become polarized or deteriorate to aggrandizing by individual representatives.
In summary, in Canada for example, a Prime Minister would be elected at large by Canada’s voters across Canada. A Cabinet of functional experts nominated by the Prime Minister and vetted by a parliamentary committee, as in the current judiciary selection, would be selected to execute the daily business of governance. 338 MPs, who are non-political yet elected by each ridings’ enumerated voters, together with parliamentary committees, which would be structured with regional representatives to discuss and recommend policy items for parliament, would then vote on the resultant agenda. The Prime Minister and Cabinet would be responsible for the governance of Canada as set out by the constitution and the legislative agenda while the directly elected riding representatives would be responsible for ongoing legislative and policy consideration of the elected Parliament.
This new form of direct democracy will need to be more participatory to include a much wider range of input in decision making. This can be considerably enhanced by the widespread use of social media where options for policy can be presented and individuals could easily express their opinion on aspects of that policy and offer their ongoing vote on the various elements in the affected society to improve the potential policy. Certainly those affected by the planned policy should have the right to participate in the creation and implementation of policy with a methodology designed to ensure those most affected are given preference in this participation.
Social Media Prominence
Over time it will likely transpire that social media in particular will become the mechanism for debate of public policy and provide the key strategic directions for a society over a certain 5-10 year period. When this resultant general policy direction is established by the voters, a candidate is chosen by a primary system that focuses that general direction into concrete policy and leaders chosen to take that policy forward and develop it into a long term plan for effective governance. The recent advent of independent focus groups, think tanks, policy institutions and various research groups collecting, interpreting and presenting fundamental facts to the voting public will make this task of public forums more appropriate for policy making in the future. Leadership roles will fall to those who can focus the agenda, coordinate the various groups and implement the publicly agreed upon strategy.
Effective Policy Deliberation
As this increased participation structure is put in place, adequate time and resources must be assigned to permit effective deliberation by those affected. This reflection period would outline reasons for favored features of the policy and help provided to people to resolve divergent perspectives. Trade-offs would be debated between individuals and groups and contradictory interests resolved. This discussion would be evaluated and moderated to allow the advantages and disadvantages of ideas to be shared, explained and debated in detail to enhance policy development. This enhanced democracy must provide unencumbered public space free from encroachment from vested interests to allow freedom to deliberate and participate without fear of retribution or reprisal.
Rights of Affected Individuals
Finally, this new direct democracy must insure the right of the most affected individuals or organizations to disagree and an important authority vested in the parliament to veto management decisions that are deemed to be a waste of time or money which could be more effectively directed at more urgent areas. Democracy requires the ability of individuals to decide freely and fairly about a policy direction without interference from lobbyists, consultants and party ideologues.
This new direct democracy would result in considerable less expenditure – estimated $300M (and $6B to run the 2012 American election) to run a current campaign in Canada under a political party structure. A more cohesive society and more respect for parliament would result. Greater involvement of the citizenry especially youth would be expected and destructive categorization of the voting public would diminish significantly. There is also a greater chance of more effective policy since one side will not be shut out. It will go a long way in reducing media campaigns to destabilize the opposition and eliminate the practice of good people being considered from only one side
(c) 2017, Harry O'Connell