There is no real freedom without power; representative democracy vs direct democracy

In totalitarian regimes the citizens have as many rights as serfs in the European Middle ages, but in representative democracy, citizens have the freedom to vote and the freedom to criticise the politicians. That is very important, but is not enough.

In representative democracies the people do not have the power to stop laws, regulations and policies they disagree with, therefore they do not have freedom of decision, they are not free.

But reality is even worse; not only the citizens can not stop actions by the executive and/or the legislative, they can not propose and approve new laws or changes to the constitution.

In representative democracies it is the politicians who propose and approve everything; laws, regulations, changes to the constitution, everything!. In some representative democracies, very few of them, changes to the constitution require approval by the people in a popular referendum.

But it is even worse, much worse than that; not only the people can not stop the politicians, they must obey and follow all the laws, regulations and policies the politicians decide will apply to the citizens.

Through laws, regulations and policies, they control the lives of citizens in all areas; as employers, employees, tenants, landlords, drivers, taxpayers, entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, car mechanics, plumbers, homemakers, wives, husbands, neighbours, students, teachers… and on and on.

The executive and the legislative control our lives form birth to death, it is time to change that.

When power changes hands, from the “left” to the “right”, all that means is that the type of control will change somewhat, but the control will not be less.

It no longer makes sense that in a “democracy” the people have no say on the laws, regulations and policies they have to comply with. Democracy is “government by the people”, how can it be “government by the people” if the people have no say on the laws, regulations and policies they have to comply with? It makes no sense, it is illogical, unfair, and has to change.

Representative democracy is not democracy; it is far superior, far more humane, than totalitarian regimes, but it not real democracy.

Therefore, it is urgent to push politicians in representative democracies to bring direct democracy. Direct democracy means the people have more power than the elected politicians, as it is supposed to be in democracy.

Direct democracy means politicians know they can only enact laws, regulations and policies that have, at least, the silent approval of the majority of the people. If they don’t,  1% of voters sign demand for a referendum on whatever law, regulation, policy or treaty politicians intend to develop. Such demand can not be turned down by government, even if the executive and the legislative unanimously wanted to.

At a minimum, we need Swiss-style direct democracy, the most democratic country on Earth, the only one, really. But the Swiss did not get rid of elected politicians, they just put in place the mechanisms to control them.

Swiss direct-representative democracy could move further, to become a full direct democracy. Full direct democracy means the people can do what they do in Switzerland, but it goes beyond, because in a full direct democracy, there are no professional politicians or political parties, they are unnecessary because the people decide issues based on the facts, not on ideologies. Political idealogies are like religions; each claims to have received The Truth; you can not get more absurd than that.

Swiss-style direct democracy is also more stable than representative democracy because the executive and the legislative have to be in tune with the people; the system of direct democracy forces them to. Therefore, Switzerland’s is by far the most stable country in the World and also the one with less political polarization.

The lower level of polarisation happens because there is no point in politicians polarizing the issues; the people decide, the people know they are the ones responsible for the fate of the country. When that happens there is no point in inflaming issues to get people excited and confused. In a direct democracy, the people do not want fireworks; they want information because they are going to decide issues, not just elect politicians.

If you want your country to be more stable, less polarized, more responsible for public money, if you want to stop those grandiose or shortsighted “glamorous” public projects, if you want better education, better universal health care, more efficient business and public services, etc., demand direct democracy.

It does not matter if you are progressive or conservative, if you want to stop the shenanigans of politicians, the waste of public money, etc., it is time you take the matter in your own hands; direct democracy is the answer.

Victor Lopez



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