Turning a representative system into a direct democratic system would need a short reform period. Both being democratic systems, the reforms wouldn’t be substantial; they’d tend to change the structures of the actual model to adapt them to the new one. Those structures would be submitted to the improvements the citizens would suggest and vote.
The transition begins with the implementation of a national social network (a website created as part of the new social contract between the citizens) for the citizens to vote.
A progressive transfer of power from those who govern to the citizens might be taken into consideration, too. It’d be an intermediate stage of semi-direct, deliberative democracy (like Switzerland’s) where the rulers would be in charge of making and guaranteeing a correct transition. New tools, like referendums as a way to control the government’s action, would make the system more and more democratic. The guarantors would transform the actual system to make it fit in the needs of the direct democracy system, eliminating anything that’d become unnecessary and smoothing the way for the development of new elements needed. Once they accomplish that mission, they’d resign from their posts as representatives.
This model is compatible with a flexible and essential Constitution that contents the principles, rights and fundamental rules only; being the citizens who’d propose, elaborate, debate, mend and submit the Constitution to vote (article per article and later the text in its entirety to a final referendum). This model of Direct Democracy stands on the creation of a (national) social network for the citizens to exercise its right to propose, elaborate, debate, rewrite and vote the laws and decisions, allowing them to exercise their right to be heard in the suffrage. Once the constitutional process is completed, the rest of laws and political decisions and State questions that concern direct legitimate interests of the people would be re-elaborated, debated, improved and approved one by one (they’d be in force until the new laws repeal them). Trial and error method would be part of this system, that’d be the key of its flexibility.
The new Constitution would create a new system with more effective ways to alleviate the needs of a more democratic society; updating, adapting and deleting the old ones. The Administration would guarantee the proper work, transparency and security of the social network developed for the citizens to exercise their right to suffrage (this implies proposing, elaborating, debating, mending and voting the laws and decisions they want). New organs would be created for the tasks the new system would require. The citizens would be involved socially and politically with more intensity, voting and being their propositions voted and debated; they would hold the power to make the decisions and it’d show casuistically.
The representative system would be obsolete, superseded by the citizens.
THE NEW SYSTEM
In the History of Modern Democracy citizen’s opinion has always been identified with his vote, hence the peak of representative system; representatives were the solution to the lack of means to make it possible to all the citizens to express their opinions and be heard. Representatives are citizens who offered themselves as a passive part of the voting process, showing a policy that could serve people so they would identify more or less and vote it.
Today, technology offers the citizens the possibility to show their own point of view and explain it, introducing the citizens’ voice in the political franchise equation as an essential element. The citizens, reflecting and sharing ideas, would come up with more efficient answers than silenced or subsumed in a few standardized political options. Internet makes this massive human feedback possible.
A social network would be implemented for the citizens to participate in the system and perfect it; they’d choose a concrete option and they’d have a space next to it to detail why they’re choosing that option, transforming the vote into the exact, expanded and personal explanation of their points of view.
So the voice is the right to freedom of expression applied to the suffrage; it transforms the vote into the explanation of an opinion and it also offers the citizens the possibility to make their own initiatives as well as improve any idea with their own thoughts, proposing, debating and improving any topic submitted for voting.
The citizen’s voice would provoke a faster evolution without having to tie to questions apart from the concrete subject matter at the moment; its dynamism and pragmatism leave the ‘ideological package’ feeling that embraces every subject and discussion on the party system out of the way. Legitimacy would be based on the citizen’s voice and vote.
The tightest relationship between the active and the passive rights to vote (the citizens would exercise both at the same time) is the result of this possibility to manifest a point of view about any subject and be considered and submitted to the rest of the citizens’ reflections. It eradicates the need of a representative system with parties based on ideologically inflexible options; now that the citizens can show their own opinions there’re no middlemen needed to express the people’s will so representation is obsolete.
The separation of powers would stand this way:
The Legislature Power would be exercised directly by the citizens. People would hold the sovereignty and exercise it as the first and original legislator.
The Executive Power would be exercised by the Administration, limited to put the expressed people’s will into practice. It would be purely executive, making no decision involving legitimate interests of the citizens on its own and there wouldn’t be high public offices; it’d be horizontal, integrated by employees performing instrumental functions and technicians with experience and capacity to develop the administrative power of technical discretion. The Administration would act only when a law says so. The citizens would draw the lines on how the Administration will organize and manage its entities, personnel and resources.
The Judiciary Power would depend on the election of judges and personnel of the judiciary power by the citizens, there’d be no administrative designation.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
The Administration would keep the social network in working order designating the most qualified technicians by public contest to guarantee its maintenance and security. It’d also elaborate and correct the electoral roll, a big database compiling all the electoral local registers provided by the local administrations (or composed by the names of the citizens as they register on the social network), always public for the citizens to see and verify the results of the votes whenever they want.
The citizens would register on the social network by introducing the data contained in their IDs (and then the social network would provide them with a PIN code), they’d access their profile, use it and participate in the political activity posting propositions, being part of debate and assembly forums, voting, etc.
The security on citizen’s identity would be guaranteed, preventing impersonations and manipulated or altered votes by sending an e-mail a week after voting with the option elected and providing a mechanism to report the vote in case of incongruence. If a citizen mislays the ID or has trouble with the PIN, the social network would be reported so it’d temporarily cancel any vote coming from the citizen’s profile, until the situation is resolved.
The best way to guarantee the system security and prevent hacking attacks or vote manipulation: public vote. The fall of the representatives and the right to be heard allowing the citizens to explain themselves within their votes make the secret ballot pointless compared to public or semi-public voting (putting the ID number or a code provided by the social network to every citizen privately instead of publishing the citizen’s name next to the option voted and the arguments given). It’s the logical consequence of applying the right to freedom of expression to the suffrage; the citizen would identify with the vote completely, being a manifestation of the citizen’s personality. It implies the total transparency of the process and citizens would trust in e-voting more easily, they could verify the results and see if they match the ones published. Those who detect incongruence could report it and challenge the voting, taking the subject to the social network administration for it to carry out an investigation with the information provided by those who detected the incongruence.
There’re some ways to guarantee public voting without harmful consequences, personal or labor; punishing ideological discrimination in contracting so employers couldn’t be biased, they couldn’t base their contracting method or choices on arbitrary criteria. Hiring criteria would be based on professional circumstances, not personal. Objective qualities (efficiency, merit and capacity) and qualifications would be the base of the hiring process, leaving no space to race, sex, ideological and religious discrimination. This would make it easier for the citizens to vote and expose their opinions, they’d fear no discriminate consequences that could restrict their freedom or condition their votes.
To minimize voting fraud and improve voting reliability there’d be "voting verifiers"; volunteers whose objective is to visit door-to-door and in person the citizens that have been voting and to check in with them to see and go over some things like:
- Verifying that their votes have been accurately recorded into the database
- Verifying that the citizen made their own votes / is capable of voting independently
- Checking that the citizen understands the voting system and how to use it
- Checking that the citizen is happy with the voting system
- Get feedback or suggestions on improvements to the voting system
This citizen outreach would be a valuable part of the system and in effect there’s something very similar going on when the country does a consensus every year. Active voting citizens could also go to voting outreach centers and do the above things themselves if they didn't want to wait for an in-home visit.
If public voting method isn’t adopted from the start, voting verifiers would tighten the security together with self-verifiable e-vote technology. When public voting is implemented, they could be replaced with verification request e-mails to citizens’ personal e-mail addresses.
The citizen would write a proposition and post it on the social network; the rest of the citizens could comment on it. Propositions would turn into vote topics with citizens’ support. The citizen would choose, among all possible propositions, 10 about local issues, 10 about country issues and 10 about global, giving them his/her “support” (supports are like Facebook’s “likes”). Propositions would need to reach a certain number of supports to become vote topics (keeping an order and making it simple, otherwise thousands of propositions and comments would overwhelm citizens and technicians from the Administration maintaining the social network), they’d be going up on the trending topics list as they get supports to finally become vote topics and be put to the vote.
Citizens could also give their support to comments they’d make on propositions, organized so that the comments with more supports would appear first, at the top of the comment list. When a citizen comments proposing partial changes on a proposition and this comment reaches a certain number of supports (always higher than the number of supports the proposition would have), the changes would be added to the proposition replacing the parts suggested to change and that reformed proposition would automatically become a vote topic. Citizens could only give their support to a proposition or a comment, they couldn’t support a proposition and a comment made on it and they couldn’t support two comments made on the same proposition.
Meanwhile, the one who wants to change parts on a proposition and the one who posted it would be talking and debating those changes in forums so the citizens would see the ideas confronted and take their support from one of the options to give it to the other, participating on those debates and explaining their own point of view.
Citizens would gain no recognition with their comments further than the propositions and concrete subjects, there’d be no option to have a reputation, weighed opinion or experience based on previous comments they made. Citizens would value any proposition and comment freely and case-by-case; expertise and experience couldn’t be assumed, it has to be proven about the concrete matter they’d be discussing, the time they’d be discussing it.
If a citizen doesn’t agree with a proposition or its comments he could give his support anyway so he could express for or against it sooner, as the proposition would get faster to the number of supports needed to turn into a vote topic.
When a proposition’s been debated and perfected by the citizens, it has all the information attached to it for the voters to be well-informed and it’s reached the number of supports needed, it’d become a vote topic. Vote topics have no comment and support options, they’d be put to the vote as it is (citizens would express their opinions about the subject within their votes).
Vote topics would disappear once voted and become what the people decided about that subject. Another proposition about the same subject could be created though; if a citizen’s dissatisfied with the solution elected he/she could post a proposition to “reform” it, starting from zero supports.
On that proposition, the citizen would write why society would need that change; it’s a great way to rectify (citizens thought the decision they voted would produce different results than what actually happened, the effects are negative and a change is needed.
The proposition which gets the number of supports to be a vote topic but doesn’t enter the voting list (ten propositions would’ve become vote topics before it) would be included in the next month’s voting list. The social network doesn’t give any chance of voting twice and since voting is public, there’d be the citizen and the option elected on the list so incongruence could be reported to the social network by anybody.
Monthly ballot deciding on 10 local topics on next month’s 26th, 10 country topics on next month’s 27th and 10 global topics on next month’s 28th. The count would start when the voting list is completed (that is, when a proposition becomes the 10th vote topic), notifying the list to the citizens then. This way, citizens have 4 weeks at least to prepare for voting (informing themselves, discussing on forums…). The social network would start working in one country or a few, changing the issues to local, regional and country or local, country and international.
Together with this voting method would be extraordinary ballot for unexpected issues (attacks, disasters…), putting them to the vote a day after the proposition reaches a concrete number of supports in decisions the citizens need to make urgently.
This new voting system wouldn’t be the end of ballot boxes, they’d be at public buildings every month for the citizens who prefer to exercise their right that way. The Administration would make sure they don’t vote twice, getting their names to disable the social network vote option when they access the boxes.
“Tags” would be there for everybody to find propositions and vote topics on the search engine easily. They would prevent duplicated propositions as well, warning the citizen about propositions for that subject that already exist.
Citizens with no access to computers would use those the public buildings earmarked for public use and/or fit out infrastructures to enter the social network (they’d work like cash machines; citizens would introduce their IDs and PINs to access their profiles and write/post propositions or comments, give their supports, etc). The security of those public machines would be guaranteed; they’d be provided with a camera that’d photograph the citizen while introducing the ID and while removing it to avoid impersonations (those pictures would only be used by the Administration in case of pleaded impersonation by the impersonated citizen. He’d report it to the Administration and it’d commence the corresponding verification process).
These infrastructures could be placed outside the public buildings to avoid massive affluence inside them and being available 24/7. There’d be rooms inside the public buildings to form and inform the citizens about the system, guiding them so they can learn about the process.
Education reform would be needed to introduce a subject in every year of primary and secondary education to teach the citizens the rights, duties and liberties they have and some of the most important laws for them to understand the new system and learn how to use it right from the start.