Is representative “democracy” closer to an elected oligarchy than to democracy?

I believe it is.

Democracy means rule by the people, not rule by the representatives of the people, even if they are freely elected by the people. If the elected representatives rule, then it is not “rule by the people”, and it is not a democracy.

Even in a representative democracy in which the executive and the legislature extensively consult with the people before passing a new law, or before modifying the constitution, it is not really democracy because the people do not make the decision to be involved, those who rule decide.

Representative democracies, where government consults extensively with the people, are perhaps the best representative democracies, but they are not democracies because the people do not rule.

In the Scandinavian democracies and a few more, they practice ample consultation, and that is good, but is not real democracy. It does not matter, for example, that the Economist Intelligence Unit ranks Norway as the best democracy in the World. Norway’s representative democracy is head and shoulders below Switzerland’s democracy. The reason is simple; the Swiss voters have more power than the government, in Norway is the opposite.

In constitutional matters, in Switzerland, the people have even more power than the high court; Norway does not come even close in that area.

In a real democracy, the people also have the final word on any issue in which they wish to decide; they do not need the invitation of the government.

Let us be clear; if the elected representatives consult the people, and even if they follow what the people say, it still is not a democracy. It can not be because the people still do not have the power to impose their will on the elected representatives.

Electing representatives is an important advance since Greek direct democracy died out, but it still is far behind Greek direct democracy as long as the people have less power than the representatives. In the whole World, only Switzerland comes close to ancient Greek democracy.

Representative democracy has been an enormous advance over authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, but it is not real democracy.

In a representative democracy, we also hear about “separation of powers”, and how important they are for democracy.

Separation of power ensures that the executive, the legislative and the judiciary can not prevail over the other two.

Unfortunately, such separation rarely works very well.

It does not work when the executive and the legislative are in the hands of the same party. In theory, the legislative power could check the power of the executive, in reality, it often happens both powers work as one in many countries.

If the party can also appoint the high court judges, then its power is almost absolute. In that case, “separation of powers” is close to nothing.

But even if the government does not control the legislature, or has not appointed the high court judges, the power remains in the “troika”; the executive-legislative-judiciary, they have all the power. Even if they check each other’s power because different political parties are in power, overall power rests with them; the people have zero, or very close to zero, power.

True separation of powers needs to add: “on their own so deciding, the people will have the power to prevail over the other three branches”.

But there is another problem; at election time, in a representative democracy, some people go and some come, but the power continues in the hands of the parties. The people in the oligarchies also come and go, but the oligarchic system endures; the power continues in the hands of the same groups.

Even if a completely new party wins the election, the change still keeps the voters away from the power to make executive decisions, decisions on laws, and decisions on the constitution.

It is time to transition from representative democracy to real democracy, to direct democracy, to an orderly, peaceful, rational, informed system of direct decision-making by the people.





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