[EM] Alternative electoral systems as tools to promote socialnetworks and activism

Stephane Rouillon stephane.rouillon at sympatico.ca
Wed Nov 24 08:04:14 PST 2004

This idea is not crazy.
It is simply the goal some of us want to achieve.
The problem consist in building a system that won't be diverted from these
objectives by human nature
(crowding, strategic vote,...)
All the examples you mention ("interactive representation", "liquid democracy",
JGA's proxy
system, my "delegative democracy", etc.) are valuable attempt to implement it on a
continuous (in time) basis.
I view the system I built (SPPA is a kind of generalization of STV) as a system
with that identical goal
but only able to take a snapshot of the popular will in time, as we actually elect
people for some years.
Go on if you think you can find a mechanism that will maintain this vision...

"An activist participating as
a "candidate" or delegate in an indrep election does not "win" or "lose" any
office, but instead receives quantifiable democratic "credentials" from the

I keep saying an election should be a representation exercise, not a battle... So
we should
obtain representatives, not winners or losers. I agree totally.

Stephane Rouillon

Bryan Ford a écrit :

> OK, here's a crazy idea.  A lot of people already compete as candidates in
> elections they know they can't win, as a way to "organize" and "build
> awareness for a cause" etc...  I won't comment on whether this is actually
> effective or not, but what if we were to _design_ an alternative "electoral
> system" not for the purpose of electing candidates to offices or seats at
> all, but instead exclusively around the purpose of catalyzing grassroots
> organization and social networks in ways that current electoral systems
> don't?   (In fact I think standard electoral systems actively discourage tend
> to discourage grassroots organization because big-money mass-media propagana
> campaigns tend to be more effective.)
> I've written up my idea in more detail and put it at www.indrep.org - here are
> the first two paragraphs summarizing the concept:
> ---
> Individual Representation:
> Real Choice for Voters, Democratic Currency for Activists
> The traditional purpose of popular elections is primarily to elect candidates
> to government offices or legislative seats, but this is not the only way we
> could use elections to facilitate democracy. Individual Representation, or
> indrep, provides a new and different reason to hold popular elections: as a
> tool for directly promoting the growth of grassroots social and political
> relationships throughout the basic fabric of society. An indrep election
> enables ordinary people, who often have insufficient time, interest, or
> knowledge to be politically or socially active themselves, to vote for
> periodically and thereby reward other politically or socially active people
> they know personally and would like to support. An activist participating as
> a "candidate" or delegate in an indrep election does not "win" or "lose" any
> office, but instead receives quantifiable democratic "credentials" from the
> election: a certified count of the number of voters the activist was able to
> mobilize behind his cause or platform in that election. A participating
> activist may also receive a small monetary reward proportional to the number
> of voters he was able to mobilize.
> The "credentials" an activist receives from an indrep election serves as a
> democratically legitimate measure of the size of his public support base,
> bolstering his status among peers and giving him the ability to prove public
> backing for his platform when arguing in public forums. In effect, democratic
> credentials can help activists who truly represent the will of a community to
> distinguish themselves from the common "vocal nut." Ordinary voters who do
> not have the time or inclination to be activists, in turn, gain the ability
> to support their activist friends in a way that requires very little personal
> time and no money. Indrep elections give activists a greater incentive to
> court and develop direct personal relationships with the ordinary,
> non-political people in their communities and social circles, and to keep
> potential voters in all elections personally informed and educated about
> important developments that the voters themselves may not have the time or
> inclination to follow. Voters in turn receive a truly unrestricted,
> individual choice of activists who can represent their views or interests in
> public debates, and thus can make their true preferences known in a fashion
> impossible with conventional electoral competitions between just two or three
> viable candidates. As an added benefit of participation, voters are also far
> more likely to receive individual attention from the activists they support
> than they would from traditional "mass market" career politicians. Hence
> individual representation.
> ---
> With respect to the ideas already discussed at length on this list, you'll
> immediately notice that from a _technical_ viewpoint there is nothing new
> here; it is in fact basically a simplification of ideas that can already be
> found in "interactive representation", "liquid democracy", JGA's proxy
> system, my "delegative democracy", etc.  The key difference is that it's a
> different application of these ideas toward a pragmatic, social purpose that
> could be implemented immediately, independent of any governmental support.
> Further, it could in the longer term serve as a basis for experimenting with,
> exposing "ordinary people" to, and putting into practice "conventional"
> alternative electoral systems designed to elect candidates to offices.
> Since this idea is more pragmatic and social than technical, I'm not sure it
> will be of that much interest to the highly technically-minded people who
> tend to inhabit the list, but I thought I'd at least throw it out to you and
> see what happens. :)  Also, the idea seems obvious enough that it must have
> been tried before a few times - does anyone know of any relevant pointers?
> Cheers,
> Bryan
> ----
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