Another decisive positive effect of direct democracy

Direct democracy has many advantages over representative democracy, one of them is that it foster rational debate centered on the issues; it dampens the political “fireworks”.

In representative democracies it is different; we have passionate, often not rationality, demagoguery, in debates about any serious issue (sometimes even about frivolous issues) in our parliaments and also in the media.

But we have those red-hot debates for one reason; parliament and the media are the forums where elected politicians want to establish their credentials for the next election in the eyes of the voters. They are more interested in looking good, and making rivals look bad, than in resolving the issues that affect the lives of citizens.

Politicians in representative democracies are obsessed with beating rivals; they do all they can to make themselves look good and make the other parties look as terrible as possible. In a direct democracy, politicians also want to beat rivals, but the fight is not bitter for two reasons; in a direct democracy politicians have far less power, theres is less to fight over, they also know they have to cooperate with rivals to obtain the support of the majority of the people, because the people can stop them from doing anything, of force them to do things the politicians do not want to do; it is harder to co-operate with a bitter enemy.

In a representative democracy, the party in power wants to convince voters the parties in the opposition are a band of incompetents, dreamers, selfish, unprincipled people, interested only in themselves and in those lobbies and pressure groups who help them get elected. The parties in the opposition do the same to the party in power.

In representative democracies, politicians of rival parties collaborate only if refusing to would make the parties look bad. Often, they get so polarized that they can not bring themselves to collaborate even if both look bad. This is one of the reasons why the reputation of politicians in representative democracies steadily drops.

Representative democracy pushes politicians of all parties to fight bitterly because in such system, the politicians in government and in the opposition, together, hold all the political power; outside elections, in representative democracies the people have zero power to decide issues.

The heated atmosphere created by the politicians and the media also contaminates voters; voters become polarized.  At the same time, in representative democracies, the people become more disillusioned with politicians.

This is where direct democracy comes in to fix things; direct democracy acts as oil poured over the waves; it calms politics.

But, how does it happen?

It is quite simple; in a direct democracy the key power, all the decisive power, does not lie with the elected representatives, the political parties, the media or the lobbies and pressure groups, it lies with the voters because the voters decide the issues.

The politicians know this, the media know it and the lobbies and pressure groups know it too.

This shift in power lowers the political temperature of debates in parliament and in the media.

In a direct democracy, the voter decides issues, ordinary citizens care about the issues, not the fireworks. Politicians in a direct democracy know that at the end of the day the people have the decisive power. This stimulates politicians to cooperate, to develop policies, regulations and laws that will be supported by the majority of citizens, otherwise what the politicians want to do will be rejected. In a direct democracy, politicians have to cooperate, negotiate, give and take to satisfy the majority of voters, not just their own voters.

Direct democracy pushes politicians to the center, representative democracy polarizes politicians, and voters.

In a direct democracy, the voters can stop the politicians from passing a law, a policy or a treaty. This is because the people, with a relatively small number of signatures, in the range of 1% of eligible voters, can force a referendum.

Not only that, the results of the referendum are binding for the politicians. In a direct democracy, not even an unanimous decision by all political parties can stop the people from holding a referendum, neither can they ignore the results.

In a direct democracy the people can take the initiative even to change the constitution.

Even the highest court in the land can not stop or overturn, in a direct democracy, the results of a popular referendum.

Also, because the voters, the ordinary citizens, are interested in the issues that concern them, not in the “fireworks”, the atmosphere around popular referendums is far more calm an rational than the atmosphere in the parliaments nd the media of representative democracies. You only have to follow what happens in Switzerland to se that.

If you want to bring to your country the advantages of direct democracy, and perhaps even pull ahead of Switzerland, you will have to fight for a reset of representative “democracy” (which is not really democracy) to become a direct democracy and reap its political, economic and social benefits. Now is the time; the crisis is a great opportunity!

Victor Lopez


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