Digital Democracy?

A definition of democracy is “a form of government in which sovereign power resides in the people as a whole and is exercised by them or their elected representatives”. We elect representatives to the various levels of governing bodies to make decisions on our behalf simply because it is not practical for us to all turn up in person and vote as we think fit. What if that were to change and we were able to vote on issues at every level of government as we desired, in person.

The form of technology to allow us to do this is already available. We could simply use a phone app or an alternative device to state our preferences.

We would still need some form of administration to solicit information on what legislation might be required, to ensure that it was in the correct format and to determine what decisions would need to be made. We would also need an executive at various levels to carry out our wishes, but this could truly be government by the people for the people.

This form of digital democracy could solve all sorts of problems. The issue of “my elected representative did not vote the way I wanted” would not apply because your representative would be you. “The party I voted for never gets elected”; problem solved, you are the party! The only people to be excluded from the process would be those who did not bother to tune in.

The advantages could be massive, but the problems could be equally significant. Would it result in a considerate, inclusive form of government or would populism take over? Would it be government by the people, for the people or mob rule? Would it be ludicrously expensive to set up? Well, this is the UK so you can almost guarantee that!

I can think of “one million and one” reasons why such a system might not work, security considerations being one, but if we are serious about democracy and all that goes with it, we need to think about what the future holds because it is happening now!

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