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Re: <nettime> Frank Rieger: We lost the War--Welcome to the World of Tom
nettime's swiss arbiter on Wed, 11 Jan 2006 22:04:38 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Frank Rieger: We lost the War--Welcome to the World of Tomorrow


Table of Contents:

   Re: <nettime> Frank Rieger: We lost the War--Welcome to the World of Tomorrow   
     Prem Chandavarkar <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com>                                          

   Re: <nettime> Frank Rieger: We lost the War--Welcome to the World of Tomorrow   
     Benjamin Geer <benjamin.geer {AT} gmail.com>                                         



------------------------------

Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 09:45:43 +0530
From: Prem Chandavarkar <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Frank Rieger: We lost the War--Welcome to the World of Tomorrow


Benjamin Geer wrote:
> On 10/01/06, Prem Chandavarkar <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com> wrote:
> 
>>So you have 15% of the electorate on one side, and 4% on the other.  The
>>11% differential is enough to swing any election and all the politicians
>>know it.  Therefore, democracy is not about majorities and minorities.
>>It is determined by how the debate coalesces around single cause issues.
> 
> 
> A referendum would deal with that problem nicely.  If your analysis is
> correct, it seems that all you need is a system that makes it easy for
> people to bring about referendums.  The Swiss have such a system, if
> I'm not mistaken.
> 
> 
A referendum helps to resolve impasses reached when you have polarised 
opinions on critical single cause issues.  It cannot be a substitute for 
the day to day negotiations of representative politics.

PC



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Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 12:40:02 +0200
From: Benjamin Geer <benjamin.geer {AT} gmail.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Frank Rieger: We lost the War--Welcome to the World of Tomorrow

On 11/01/06, Prem Chandavarkar <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com> wrote:
> A referendum helps to resolve impasses reached when you have polarised
> opinions on critical single cause issues.  It cannot be a substitute for
> the day to day negotiations of representative politics.

True.  On the other hand, elected representatives may well be less
likely to pass unpopular laws, and more likely to take the views of
the majority into account when carrying on those day-to-day
negotiations, if they know that citizens can easily arrange a
referendum on any issue in order to reverse their decisions.  The
existence of an easy referendum mechanism, even if it is rarely used,
may thus make politicians more sensitive to public opinion.

On the other hand, referendums are no help at all if a minority has a
serious problem that the majority doesn't care about or understand.
This is a common enough problem, and calls into question the very
principle of voting.

I think a fairer principle would be to try to allocate influence on an
issue-by-issue basis according to how seriously a particular issue
affects each person[1].  Even a very rough approximation of this
principle can be rather effective.  For example, in Porto Alegre's
participatory budget[2], the funds allocated to neighbourhood projects
by popular deliberation are automatically adjusted according to a
separate evaluation of each neighbourhood's needs in terms of
infrastructure and so on.  The result is that the poorest
neighbourhoods consistently get the most attention; in effect, their
influence in the decision-making process is magnified, and there is
evidence that this has helped reduce inequalities.

Ben

[1] http://political-explorations.info/ethics-soc-trans_en.html
[2] http://www.ideassonline.org/bros_view_eng.asp?id=3D27





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