[EM] [MG] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Fri Mar 15 12:17:21 PDT 2013

At 01:53 AM 3/14/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:
>About demoex and related iniatiatives (E2D 
>http://e2d-international.org ), it was, as far 
>as I understand not the intention to overtake 
>the whole political system with this experiment. 
>It is just a "Trojan horse" to breach the power 
>of the political parties in order to establish a 
>direct democracy more or less build around the Swiss example (to start with).
>The question still is: How do you evolve to a 
>direct democracy in a particracy that does not 
>allow direct democracy and where parties have 
>direct democracy in their program just to forget it after elections.
>And Demoex was, and is, a possible answer.

Not really, not as Demoex was run. It *was* an 
experiment and thus some aspects of answer may be 
learned from it. We are, however, short on deteiled information about Demoex.

First of all, direct democracy, just that simple, 
is a Bad Idea when the scale becomes large, and 
it can be untenable even on a small scale, long-term.

Direct democracy is what people do naturally, 
when the scale is small. However, as the scale increases, difficulties arise.

The democracy that has been successful is 
*deliberative* democracy. Deliberation on a large 
scale can *seem* to work for a while, but 
participation bias can kill it. Wikipedia is a case in point.

I don't know what Demoex is currently doing, but 
this is from http://demoex.net/en/

>Demoex concept is to mix direct- and 
>representative democracy. Our “arena” is this Internet site.
>How does it work?
>When Demoex get the summons to a new meeting we 
>sort out the issues we are interested in. These 
>issues are then debated before we finally send 
>our ballots the day before the meeting. Our 
>representatives in the local government votes like the majority of the members.

Demoex originally used Nordfors software, which 
implemented delegable proxy. However, they 
shifted to Membro software, and then, in 2008, to 
their own. It is unclear whether or not they are using delegable proxy.

If they are, it could be working reasonably well, 
but ... they are still apparently electing, not a 
true representative, but a rubber-stamp for 
majority opinion in the Demoex process. That does 
not fit with the deliberative process in the local parliament.

The last reports I see show Demoex went from 1.7% 
in the 2002 election, raised to 2.6% in 2006. 
They elected one seat both years. For 
perspective, the population of Vallentua is 
reported in Wikipedia as 25,228. It is unclear if 
the associated municipality, Taby, would be 
represented in the parliament, if so, the population basis would be 85,425.

The page above refers to a blog for more information about Demoex.


This blog is obviously promoting Demoex and 
deprecating at least one of the other parties 
that took seats in the election, the Sweden 
Democrats. In the latest post in this Demoex 
section of the blog, Juluy 4, 2012, the Demoex 
Way (roughly) is promoted for use around the world.

Posts of November 2 and December 12, 2011, 
announced a book being published about Demoex and 
plans to create software for on-line democracy, 
following the Demoex model. Are they aware of Votorola?

January 18, 2011:

>Demoex has tried, but failed, to create a 
>platform for joint public political debate on 
>the web. The elected representatives from the 
>traditional parties have refused to participate 
>in this democratic experiment. Instead they have 
>marginalised Demoex through out the eight years.

In other words, it's their fault we failed. The blog goes on:

>The greatest obstacle is the party system’s 
>hierarchical structure. Hierarchies in politics 
>mean that power is concentrated on only a 
>handful of people. None of them benefit from 
>sacrificing party interests for the benefit of a greater good.

This assumes that representatives "benefit" by 
being elected. It totally ignores the other side 
of this issue, and it identifies, as the problem, 
what is probably inevitable in *any organization* 
-- including Demoex. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy

There are solutions to the problem, but the Demoex model won't work.

What we see below is an assumption that members 
of a town council will vote purely according to 
party interests, rather than their own opinions. 
Now, it looks like a system of PR is being used, 
probably party-list. So members *are* identified 
by party. In the US, town offices are commonly 
elected without party designations. In hybrd 
direct/representative democracy systems, as I've 
been proposing, party-list and party 
affiliations, while they might be known, would 
not be on the ballot, and, indeed, there would be 
no names on the ballot. Old-style ballot, the 
name -- or a numerical code -- is written in.

But this assumes the election of 
*representatives* with *discretion.* And the 
system being proposed, Asset Voting, creates an 
Electoral College of all those who received 
votes, and it is *possible* that these "electors" 
could cast their votes directly if they wish, on 
issues. And *anyone* could become an elector. 
Just register. So ... direct voting is possible, 
but there is, essentially, a default vote that is 
cast by elected members of the Assembly.

Demoex has actually demonstrated the problems of 
the kind of direct democracy that they are 
advocating. They call it, somewhere, 
direct/representative, but the representative 
does not represent people in the Council who 
voted for them, but the party majority's 
expressed position. This "representative" could 
be replaced with a rubber stamp.

Direct democracy exists where public intiative 
and referendum exist. And, I'd say, it is a 
device for giving power to those whe can spend 
the most money on a political campaign, or who 
have the best media access. A true reform might 
*use* the party system, where it exists, but 
would, indeed, remove the influence -- and 
necessity -- of money for campaigning.

Lots of people naively think that direct 
democracy would be better than what we have. Town 
Meeting government, which is direct democracy, is 
still common in New England. As towns increase in 
population, eventually, they move to a 
Mayor/Council government. Amherst, MA, retained 
what it called "Town Meeting," through a special 
state law allowing it, but that "Meeting" is, as 
I recall, something like 300 people, elected by 
majority vote from small districts. And it's 
famous for untenable discussions. *Far too many 
people.* Unless it creates and uses an effective committee system.

So, Demoex may get a certain knee-jerk vote based 
purely on the idea that it's "direct democracy." 
They seem to have the support of about 1/40 of 
the voters. I don't know the demographics, but 
1/40 is not enough to give them two seats, and 
about 1/60 was enough for one. That does *not* 
mean that they actually had a direct quota, 
necessarily, they might merely have been the largest block remaining.

If anyone can compile better statistics on Demoex, it could be useful.

It is unknown if they are using delegable proxy. 
With delegable proxy, they should be able to 
negotiate 2/3 consensus, and then only consider a 
2/3 vote to be routinely binding on their 
representative. For the representative to be 
*obligated* to vote based on the opinions of 
those *who did not participate in the parliament 
deliberations* is directly contrary to strong 
democratic traditions. It is because Robert's 
Rules of Order thinks of proxy voting as being 
"instructed voting" that they strongly discourage 
it. Basic handbook of democracy....

They do mention "advisors." "Advisor" was 
Nordfors word for what I called the "proxy." It 
emphasizes the "outbound" flow of information, 
the proxy designations and conversations between 
proxies and clients is the inbound flow. So 
Nordfors and I, at one point, wrote about the AP, the Advisor/Proxy....

>Competition between ideas is important in 
>politics, but the hierarchical system harms 
>competition between ideas by blocking free flow 
>of information in order to protect the party’s mandate. Two recent examples:

This is the claim and impression, and what may be 
true about this is that the *official political 
structure* is vulnerable to partisan politics. 
However, in reality, and especially in small 
towns, information flows readily *outside the 
official structure.* My sense is that Demoex has 
attracted "outsiders" who don't participate much 
in the already-existing defacto communications 
structure. They think of what goes on in terms of 
insiders (the other people) and outsiders (them).

In small towns, though, from what I've seen, most 
people volunteer to serve on councils because 
they want to serve the town. Their friends and 
neighbors. I lived in a small New England town 
for some years, and, basically, it was difficult 
to get people to volunteer for town offices. If 
you wanted to serve, and weren't completely 
crazy, you could do it. You could go to Town 
Meeting if you wanted, and it was often difficult 
to get a quorum, which I think was 30 or so. But 
if there was some Huge Issue -- and as I recall, 
this only had to do with outside political 
issues, not actual town business! -- the room 
would be packed to overflowing and nothing could 
actually be done except to listen to a few speeches.

>September 6th 2010: Demoex submitted an 
>interpellation to implement a democracy 
>experiment that streaches across party lines. 
>The majority of the City Council even prohibited 
>the interpellation from beeing put forward. 
>Further, Demoex inquired whether the 
>municipality would be willing to publish 
>politicians’ blogs on the municipality’s website 
>before the election. The mayor then claimed, 
>that he could not possibly answer the question 
>due to lack of information, although he had three months to investigate.

I.e., they "failed" because others didn't see the 
need. What was the actual "experiment"? And why 
should, indeed, those elected under the existing 
system think that the system should be 
"improved." They had seen, for eight years, how 
Demoex worked, and the signs are that they disliked it.

What would stop Demoex from just going ahead with 
their experiment? Indeed, isn't Demoex itself 
supposed to be such an experiment, anyone can join.

And why should the city publish blogs from 
politicians before the election? How is it chosen 
whose blogs are published? Anything submitted? 
This could create an administrative nightmare, 
legal issues, etc. Why can't Demoex *just do it*? 
Invite all candidates that it's willing to invite 
to submit statements or blogs.

Basically, this blog is being written by Per 
Norback, who "believes in" Demoex, and who 
clearly doesn't see what *others involved in the 
town's government" see. He is apparently the 
current Demoex representative. So ... he's 
*partisan*. Clearly. Just over a different set of 
issues, perhaps, than other representatives.

>September 13th 2010: Remuneration Committee 
>proposes a dramatic increase of fees for the 
>up-coming term. The municipality council’s board 
>did not mention the issue beforehand on the 
>agenda. The board decided that the chairmen of 
>municipality boards together with the opposition 
>party leader will have 65 percent increase of 
>salaries. It seems like a deliberate strategy to 
>keep voters unaware of the increase.

If so, didn't work. Notice, why do "voters" need 
to be "aware" of the recommendation of the 
Renumeration Committee? (*Demoex* wants this. So, 
I would expect Per to vote against this. But 
wait, he didn't have instructions? Does he vote 
his own opinion, or does he have specific 
instructions for how to handle matters like this? 
Does he vote his personal opinion on such matters 
as Amendements, Table, Postpone?

This is someone who seems a bit paranoid about 
what happens in the Council. But notice that the 
salary increase was for the *opposition* party 
leader. I'd assume that is the ordinary minority 
party on the Council. Not the majority party or 
party with the most seats. Per seems to have an 
opinion that this is an *obvious* example of 
system breakdown due to the party system. In 
other words, he's only looking from his own 
rather narrow point of view. What was the vote on 
the Council? How much opposition was there to this proposal, and from whom?

The blog links to a book in preparation, one chapter


>In the past, I mentioned Wikipedia, a great example of what people
>can do by working together with common visions and ideas. I would
>like to see a »Wikimocracy« with the same commitment, but with
>political issues in all kinds of languages in different countries instead
>of dictionary words. The site would have referendums at all levels –
>municipal, regional, state or provincial and federal. People should have
>the right to vote in the political bodies to which they belong.

He's totally naive. Wikipedia, that train-wreck, 
as an example. I should acknowledge that 
Wikipedia, in certain ways, worked, but 
frequently breaks down where there is 
controversy. That's because it never established 
a workable, adequately efficient, deliberative 
structure. There is some decent theory behind 
Wikipedia, but the site actually never 
implemented structures to enforce the "policies." 
It's all done ad-hoc and with very high 
unreliability.... and, supposedly, decisions on Wikipedia are not made by vote.

Yes, people should have the right to vote in "the 
political bodies to which they belong." However, 
the vast majority of people, in democracies, only 
belong to one political body, the overall 
electorate. They don't belong to the Town 
Council, the State Legislature, the Federal 
Legislature. They have the right to vote of 
citizens in the city, state, nation. And they 
vote for people to *represent them*.

Many of us here are working for systems that more 
fairly create actual representation. Demoex 
attempts to turn the governmental process into 
direct democracy, which is classically known to 
break down when the size gets above some value. 
(I was just having this conversation, some think 
it starts to break down at about 30 people, 
long-term. If most of my small town's voters 
actually showed up at Town Meeting, that would be 
about 600 voters. Completely untenable for any 
serious, deep discussion. If that discussion is 
going to happen, it has to happen outside of Town 
Meeting, which means it's advisory.

Giving advice, as distinct from attempting to 
control, would have been the proper role of 
Demoex. They can elect a member who is specially 
pledged to *respect* that advice, and to review 
the discussions, but I highly recommend electing 
such a representative as being someone trusted to 
make apparently contrary decisions, on the spot, 
as the representative see's fit for the welfare of the town.

What has been set up with Demoex is a system 
which, instead, serves the expressed opinions of 
a *party*. Does it allow negotiated compromise?

To get more information, I'll need to look at 
sites in Swedish. First of all, the election results are on this page:

It looks like there were 21,880 eligible voters. 
Of these, 83.52% actually voted. There are 8 
parties that got more votes than Demoex. One of 
the pages, the Demoex or blog page, mentioned the 
Swedish Democrats, as Bad in some way. Looking at 
the election results, it's obvious why. For the 
two parties, which are at the bottom of the list, 
there being only a category of Other Parties that 
got 0.7% of the vote, 2006 and 2010 results 
follow, with percentages based on a total of 
18,373 non-blank and non-spoiled votes:

                 2006    2010
Demoex          2.85%   1.76%
SD              1.12%   2.68%

In 2006, Demoex was supported by 471 voters. In 
spite of total turnout increasing from 16528 to 
18373, Demoex was only supported in 2010 by 323 
voters. In 2010, they did no better than in 2002, 
their first election. SD overtook them, but it's 
totally unclear whether or not SD actually took votes from Demoex.

If Demoex reconstituted itself as an advisory 
organization, with either an elected 
representative, or a *report by Demoex process* 
of a different party's representative (which 
might, in fact, be cleaner and more sustainable), 
they could still turn things around.

Another piece of information: The current 
demoex.net site claims that if the number of 
voters reaches 24,000 in 2014, there will be 51 seats elected.

So what they have is about one seat out of fifty.

If they elect to keep running a candidate, I'd 
revise the conditions, and elect someone trusted 
to review the Demoex deliberations, and, as I 
mentioned above, to *respect* them, which does 
not necessarily mean following them. It would 
mean that arguments raised in Demoex would either 
be rejected by Demoex's own representative, who 
would explain his or her decision to the party 
strucutre, or accepted and forwarded to the Council.

If the goal is to eliminate partisanship, then 
*the process must eliminate partisanship,* 
including "Demoex partisanship." To accomplish 
the goal of *citizen participation,* Demoex only 
needs one seat, but it could elect more.

Notice on the elections page, that they are *at 
the bottom*, except for the very tiny result for "other parties."

Calling for the imitation of Demoex at this point 
is calling for the imitation of a process that 
has only been successful in a narrow way. It's 
not growing, but Per is looking toward being a force on the world stage.

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