Hybrid Democracy

Political fluidity, the cultural replacement of Opinion Leaders with Influencers, and the need for a faster democratic paradigm have brought me to the conclusion that our century will see some rather major restructuring of our institutions.

One of the possibilities that are discussed time and again is the shift from representative democracy to direct democracy.
Among many reasonable and voiced complains about such approach, people may not be interested enough or simply not have enough knowledge on selected topics to be able to express an informed decision.

Following this line of thought, I evaluated the possibility of a hybrid democracy that would still maintain the principles of representativeness, but also allow for direct participation.
In a very simplified, 3 steps overview, I envisioned a hybrid parliament as follows:

  1. Parliament is open to virtual participation via internet
  2. Each person has 1 vote on each topic, and can chose how to use it:
    • voting directly via internet
    • delegating a “spokesperson” to vote in their behalf
    • not voting
  3. The right to speak in parliament is granted only to those who were delegated by a large enough number of voters

As about delegation, it could work in many ways… one could delegate a single vote, could delegate different people for different topics, and the delegation could be time bond (1 week while I am on holiday, or the whole year). Ideally all delegations should expire after a “term” to use current terminology.

The advantages of such approach would be numerous:

  • political fluidity would be addressed,
  • lack of representativeness would be a thing of the past,
  • each spokesperson’s vote would count for the number of received delegations,
  • there would be a good balance between the representativeness of a proportional voting system, and the agility of a majoritarian system,
  • while there would be tens of thousands of delegates (anyone could delegate their wife, dad or cousin), potentially there could be many less spokespersons in parliament, facilitating debates between different stances,
  • spokespersons would not need to pledge loyalty to a party, but would be judged on a continuous basis by their delegators,
  • spokespersons would be personally accountable for each of their decisions

There would certainly be disadvantages too that would need to be addressed, but fortunately this isn’t going to happen any time soon, so we have time to rectify the imperfections… for example selling and buying votes would arguably be easier, and lobbying in form of advertisement and marketing to the voter/customer would probably end up taking a huge slice of the political debate in many areas.

It is important however to understand that the current “crisis of the elites”, is not temporary, and it reflect the end of an era of trust towards policy makers, or more in general the end of mediation: everything in the internet era is immediate (i.e.: non-mediated) and the role of mediators is undergoing a complete revolution: from drivers, to bankers, translators, journalists and -of course- politics, no one is safe.

While my suggestion here can be seen as amusing by some, the current political model is unfit for purpose in this century, and while criticizing new ideas is perfectly reasonable, if done with the intent of bringing back solutions from the last century, that is unlikely to be a viable option at all.

Faster Democracy in faster century

We live in a fast era: technology change fast, we rarely have the time to analyze the same input twice, we multitask, we are addicted to novelty and have a idiosyncrasy for anything old.

Our century is arguably faster than any previous one, and our democracies are inherently slow hardcoded from the constitution up to follow the same paradigm that generated them decades or centuries ago.

Our democracy should, and can be faster.

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Political Fluidity

We often hear that we live a fluid political climate.

I already discussed how I do not see this as a momentary glitch in an otherwise sound political system, but rather as the natural consequence of our technological evolution; something that has not yet reached the tipping point too.

So what do we mean when we speak about political fluidity today? It is a concept related to how the electorate is mutable and their support to a leader or party is purely momentary, and could change at any time. While this was obviously always true to some degree, it is now becoming more true than ever.

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On Brexit

On March 29th the Brexit odyssey is scheduled to conclude.
The original question at the referendum in 2016 was as follows:

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

  • Remain a member of the European Union
  • Leave the European Union

As of today, there are many possibilities still on the table… the most commonly discussed are:

  1. Deal Brexit
  2. No Deal Brexit
  3. No Brexit
  4. Second Brexit Referendum
  5. Postpone Brexit

I am not proposing anything revolutionary, but I think the option of having a Deal/No Deal referendum was not discussed enough yet.

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Slow Democracy

In the current wave of populism, and revamped risk of totalitarianism, I came to wonder how can democracy survive. What I was after was a realistic path to success that would overcome the inherent slowness to reaction, to adoption of new technologies, the inertia to change.

Framing the question in those terms, made it crystal clear that populism -and even more so totalitarianism- are simply more agile in times of change. 

When this realization came to mind, considering the supertechnologies about to rise -like Robotics and A.I.– and the risks these technologies bring together with them if not handled promptly, for the first time I came to wonder: is saving democracy the way to go at this point in history?

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Cold war 2.0 and Europe

Nato conducts a military drill in Norway with over 50,000 soldiers and 10,000 between military vehicles, aircrafts and ships.

Russia launches the operation Vostok-2018: about 300,000 soldiers, nearly 40,000 between military vehicles, aircrafts, ships, helicopters and drones. China contributes with 3,500 troops.

The American administration is questioning at the highest level the role of USA within NATO (Trump), all while supporting anti-European populist parties (Bannon).

All of this happened in the last few months alone. There’s enough to start considering whether we should concern ourselves with what the future may bring.

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Democracy Miniaturisation

After the fall of the USSR, we immediately saw many European countries splitting into smaller entities, and even after that momentum slowed down, there never was an inversion, but rather a consolidation that took different shapes all the way to the present.

At the same time glocalization has grown to become a mainstream cultural trend: on one hand we keep globalizing as we did for decades, assimilating more and more foreign cultures into our own, enhancing the migration flows and letting our society becoming more diverse, but on the other hand we become more and more aware of what makes our own local culture unique exactly because we now have more elements to compare ourselves with others, thus enhancing the personal bond with our local community.

These two factors work in synergy with many others, and together they are providing an impulse towards a miniaturisation of our democracies.

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