[em] What Use?

New Democracy donald at mich.com
Thu Oct 22 07:38:42 PDT 1998

  ---------- Forwarded Letter ------------
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 19:17:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ren Aguila
Subject: What Use?
To: New Democracy <donald at mich.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0

Dear Donald,                                    19 October 1998

I am a resident of the Philippines, a country whose middle class is
growing disenchanted with the political system of the country in
general. The piecemeal reforms of the constitution initiated back in
1987 have been defeated by traditional politicians (whose local name
is "trapo" or rags in English) who feel that representatives from
alternative political groups would endanger their hegemony.
I came across your electoral system proposals, and I find them a
viable alternative to the system we have now in our country. However,
I would like to ask some questions:

1. Would this system work in countries which have been ethnically
divided such as Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Hercegovina? Should there
be any modifications that would help? This is primarily to help
alleviate the concerns of the southern Philippines, which is itself
ethnically divided to some extent.

2. Some complaints which I believe would be brought up if any form of
preferential voting is imposed is that counting would be more
complicated, especially if we do a manual count. Thus, people in our
country believe that plurality, for all its flaws, is easier to count,
considering that most election officials are volunteers who cannot get
much sleep. How would you answer this?

3. With a computerized election system, how would voters enter the
numbers needed? And, for that matter, would voters be confused with
too many numbers? One advantage I believe the current electoral
systems have is that names are much more important for persons in
developing democracies than anything else. Unfortunately, for me at
least, this is the case.

4. Lastly, do you think direct democracy would work in developing
democracies? Does it require that the upper and middle classes lose
their indifference and apathy which I am afraid stands in the way of
any political reform?

That's all I want to ask.
Anyway, good luck on your proposals. I am sure they can be fairly
applied in any scenario, but these questions must be answered first.
Thank you and have a good day.

Ren Aguila
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dear Ren Aguila,

     No electoral system is going to stop someone who is trying to kill
you, but people who have been divided need an electoral system that not
only includes everyone but also gives these people the power to control
their own government. Direct Democracy is able to do this more so than any
other political system.

     Yes, there is a modification that would not only help, but is
necessary. That modification is the use of Conclusive Majority (aka
Supermajority). I feel that a sixty percent Conclusive Majority would be
fine for any country which is not in turmoil. But as the level of turmoil
increases the level of Conclusive Majority should also increase. Places
like Northern Ireland and Bosnia - Hercegovina maybe should be at the
eighty percent level.

     Most current governments are based on the policy of "Us against Them".
A better policy is to include everyone into the decision making process -
or at least more people. The principles of Direct Democracy are good for
the people and necessary but they will not stop a "Simple Majority" faction
from becoming a ruling class and abusing the rest of the people. A
Conclusive Majority will force the "Simple Majority" faction to consider
the concerns of others. In the long run the sensible people of each faction
will prevail(I hope).

     The same Conclusive Majority requirement would apply to anything that
is voted on, such as: Citizens' Initiatives, laws passed by any lawmaking
body, and Citizens' Review of laws.

     It is interesting to note that one of the conditions of the Northern
Ireland peace agreement is that the area is to have proportional
representation(PR), but England and the USA, who are active working on the
agreement, do not have PR. These countries see the value of one principle
of Direct Democracy as good for peace. It is hoped that someday they will
see that all the principles are good for peace and good for themselves.

     The answer to your second question will require a letter of its own.

Donald Davison

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