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Innovations in Direct Democracy

Democracy
Referendums and Initiatives
Representation
Voting
Jonathan Rinne
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Jonathan Rinne
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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Abstract

Direct Democracy is commonly discussed as a democratic innovation that could possibly cure the alleged crises of representative democracy. While focusing on direct democracy in the context of representative democracy, it is oftentimes forgotten to examine the room for improvement of direct democratic instruments themselves. In my paper I try to close this research gap by outlining a newly designed direct democratic instrument. This particular innovation aims at allowing more direct citizen participation for a large number of substantial issues. Simplified, the proposed innovation is an extended policy voting procedure that allows distinct influence on single issues. More specifically, the concept enables the electorate to vote for a policy program of one party while “adding” another party’s issue (=vote for party program A and additionally vote for issue X of party B). Likewise, a voter may cross out single issues of the chosen policy program (=vote for party program A but give no votes to issue Y of party A). Besides altering policy programs, voters may opt to compile their program of choice by voting for discretely selected issues. While these options exist, using them is not obligatory – a voter can simply vote for one party’s policy program and not alter it at all. Consequently, the concept facilitates a flexible direct democratic input: Voters may invest a lot of time and express their own preferences very precisely, but voters that do not want to or cannot be involved more extensively in the policymaking process can show their support of a party’s policy program with a single vote. The supposed outcome of such a voting procedure would be similar to a directly elected government program. After presenting the concept I would like to discuss possible effects of the new instrument on representative democracy with the panel.