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Democracy - what is it?

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Democracy - what is it?

Old 24th Mar 2019, 23:22
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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An illusion, that people in power allow, to enable everybody believe that they "somehow have a say", where in reality, everything stays the same. But occasionally we will just change the faces to keep up the illusion.
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 00:05
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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There is a problem that when the national position on technical matters is to be voted on, how many of the population have a clue about the subject? This is the problem with

Let's take an area of my expertise. A matter comes up at ITU regarding allocating a certain band of frequencies to say cellular telephony. Currently, it's allocated to space research and SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite Service) OK, SARSAT doesn't get a lot of use while cellular could be making a lot of money and reducing 'phone call costs. Should you let the people vote in a Plebiscite or referendum, knowing many of them will never be worried about SARSAT but will about telephone charges? Probably not very many will ever lose nearest and dearest because SARSAT couldn't receive a distress call....

OK here, we have an extreme hypothetical case, but of the 'democratic majority', how many have the knowledge to make an informed decision?
At this stage, I would throw in that as most of the UK population have never dealt professionally with the EC, their thoughts on Brexit are not worth much. Those of us that have had that pain have seen the 'iron enter into our souls'......


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Old 25th Mar 2019, 02:22
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by pattern_is_full View Post
The purest form of democracy would be all referenda. The peepul ("bless their black, flabby little hearts")* get to vote on everything directly.

Never really been tried in communities of over a couple of hundred people, because it gets unwieldy (no one has time to get in the crops, feed the livestock, thatch the roofs, etc. etc.). At some point "government" starts to become a full-time management job.
There are countries which have a pretty close thing to that form of direct democracy, in Europe it is Switzerland who has the institution of referenda and initiatives as a standard operating mode. People do get to vote quite regularly and on all important things. Whether they are important, everyone can decide by collecting enough signatures either to force a vote on a law passed by parliament or to initiate a constitutional ammendment on their own. In the latter case, parliament's vote on an initiative is purely informative as the people's vote counts. While we are a bit more than " a couple of hundred people" with some 5.3 million voters, I agree this can get a bit too much for countries with a billion or so... but it would be perfectly feasible in most European countries. Only that this is definitly not how the EU operates or even wants to operate, nor how most parliaments would want to operate either as it massively curtails their power.

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Old 25th Mar 2019, 08:29
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by racedo View Post
An illusion, that people in power allow, to enable everybody believe that they "somehow have a say", where in reality, everything stays the same. But occasionally we will just change the faces to keep up the illusion.
Like religion, an opiate for the people.

I remember reading " A very British Coup" by Chris Mullin many years ago about the landslide election of a socialist PM (OK, I know the PM is not technically directly elected, in theory anyway) and the subsequent moves of the establishment to depose him. It was a bit contrived, but appealed to the cynic in me.

The issue with brexit is those who are the real power brokers want to squash it - the EU construct has been too good a supply of cheap labour and a good means of concentrating wealth and hence power in ever more limited hands - without destroying the illusion of the opiate.
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 08:40
  #45 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by AN2 Driver View Post
in Eu be perfectly feasible in most European countries. Only that this is definitly not how the EU operates or even wants to operate, nor how most parliaments would want to operate either as it massively curtails their power.
Certainly true in UK, maybe 60% of people are willing to vote every two to three years or so but I have certainly seen grumbling when it is more frequent and two in one month well the annoyance in palpable. Voting for our first police commissioner met with massive indifference. Certainly in our area none of the candidates were liked.


Things might be different once people could see a positive result from their votes.
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 08:50
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Switzerland: there seems to be a lot to like about their participative democracy, but not all citizens choose to participate.

"Voter turnout in national elections has remained between 30% to 50% since the 1950s, and amounted to just 45.6% in 2017, therefore it seems that the more of a voice people have, the less often they turn out to vote."
Participation rates

From the same source: since the 1960's, the average Swiss voter participation rate in referenda also appears to be around 45%.

Switzerland rates at 10 (out of 20) in the Wikipedia list of countries considered to operate as "Full democracy"
Country ranking of level of democracy
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 09:08
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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The funniest comment I read on another thread is that, 'Parliament is there to carry out the will of the people'. Parliament is actually there to run the country. Democracy gives us a collective chance to get them in or get them out but no one ever said they'll do our bidding once in power.
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 11:43
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by clareprop View Post
The funniest comment I read on another thread is that, 'Parliament is there to carry out the will of the people'. Parliament is actually there to run the country. Democracy gives us a collective chance to get them in or get them out but no one ever said they'll do our bidding once in power.
Actually not true. The Government (the Executive) is there to run the country. Parliament (the Legislature) is there to devise, scrutinise and maintain our laws, and to hold the Executive to account. The Government is answerable to Parliament, and MPs are answerable to their constituency electorates (all the more so now they can be recalled).

Parliament is sovereign - the Government can only act with the consent and approval of Parliament (Parliament and Government are not the same thing, which people are prone to forgetting).

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Old 25th Mar 2019, 11:44
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by clareprop View Post
The funniest comment I read on another thread is that, 'Parliament is there to carry out the will of the people'. Parliament is actually there to run the country. Democracy gives us a collective chance to get them in or get them out but no one ever said they'll do our bidding once in power.
Factually incorrect. The British Government is there to run the country. Don't confuse Parliment with Govt as it is different.

Primary role of MPs elected to parliment is to ensure they get relected next time.
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 18:44
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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Ninja'd you, Racedo!



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Old 25th Mar 2019, 19:27
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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I thought the classic definition was the ruling of the people, by the people, for the people. The definition of communism being the flogging of the people, by the people, for the people?
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 00:47
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by layman View Post
Switzerland: there seems to be a lot to like about their participative democracy, but not all citizens choose to participate.

"Voter turnout in national elections has remained between 30% to 50% since the 1950s, and amounted to just 45.6% in 2017, therefore it seems that the more of a voice people have, the less often they turn out to vote."
Participation rates

From the same source: since the 1960's, the average Swiss voter participation rate in referenda also appears to be around 45%.

Switzerland rates at 10 (out of 20) in the Wikipedia list of countries considered to operate as "Full democracy"
Country ranking of level of democracy
Turnout rates vary massively over the issue. Those issues which were quite critical for the countries future had up to 75% participation.

Obviously, in any democracy, the right not to exercise one's right to vote is part of the law too. If people find an issue unimportant or they determine they do not know enough about it to make an educated vote, they can decide not to vote. It is part of the democratic process but imho does not make the decision less binding.

That elections draw rather average participations has to do with the fact that the effect of the elections, in particular the power of the government over the people, in Switzerland is much less than elsewhere due to the direct democracy.

The funniest comment I read on another thread is that, 'Parliament is there to carry out the will of the people'. Parliament is actually there to run the country. Democracy gives us a collective chance to get them in or get them out but no one ever said they'll do our bidding once in power.
The most accurate description of what the relationship between government and the people would be

"Government derives its power from the consent of the people."

In a democratic society this might be ammended to read "from the consent of a majority of the people" which is how things should work in fact.

The trouble is that far too many MP's forget that little sentence the day after the elections until about 2 months before the next ones.

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Old 26th Mar 2019, 06:02
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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Factually incorrect. The British Government is there to run the country. Don't confuse Parliment with Govt as it is different.
I wasn't being 'factual', I was being ironic however, the events of last night appear to suggest even my irony is an understatement.
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 10:43
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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AN2 Driver

the last time Swiss participation hit 70% was pre-1950 (even close to 60% participation was pre-1950 for that matter)

I still like the concept of referenda but if the participation rate for the Swiss is (almost) always below 50%, then less half the people are bothering to be actively involved in their democracy.
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 10:56
  #55 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Paultheparaglider View Post
Like religion, an opiate for the people.

I remember reading " A very British Coup" by Chris Mullin many years ago about the landslide election of a socialist PM (OK, I know the PM is not technically directly elected, in theory anyway) and the subsequent moves of the establishment to depose him. It was a bit contrived, but appealed to the cynic in me.

The issue with brexit is those who are the real power brokers want to squash it - the EU construct has been too good a supply of cheap labour and a good means of concentrating wealth and hence power in ever more limited hands - without destroying the illusion of the opiate.
I think you've nailed it there Paul. I voted Leave for a variety of reasons, but one of them was to "mix things up a bit" at the top of the tree. Letting the powerbrokers (and freeloaders) know that, maybe just once, I've had enough of the status quo. I was as surprised as them that it turned out to be a majority view, but that's the democracy we all signed up to.

The constant attempts to thwart the democratic wishes of the people just confirms everything that is wrong with our specific form of democracy, and underlines how morally bankrupt and power crazed our elected representatives and establishment elite have become.
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 11:02
  #56 (permalink)  
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Parliament is sovereign
Constitutionally he crown is sovereign in parliament, and is advised by her PM and ministers she appoints and why she has to sign acts into law.

Hence the constitutional importance of Royal Consent and Royal Assent which the government can withhold and recommend being refused in turn to prevent legislation being passed without government agreement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen-in-Parliament

https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2019...xtension-bill/

https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2019...ackbench-bill/
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 12:45
  #57 (permalink)  
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rifruffian - thank you - I had read YOUR fine effort but, unfortunately, it doesn't help with the constant use of the term by contributors, here and elsewhere, who continue to use it to justify illogical positions. As quoted in so many of those posts, it is merely an unsubstantiated 'prop' for a weak (and selfish) argument.
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 13:41
  #58 (permalink)  
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As an elected representative at the lowest level of the British democratic process, I was elected on a promise to represent the interests of the people in a ward or section of our town. I do this to the best of my ability and have on occasion acted contrary to my own personal interest because the interest of those I represent is in conflict with my own. Such is life, that is what I am there for. At the upper levels of our democratic process - Westminster - I am disgusted by the existence of "Lobbying" which to my mind is a form of corruption. MPs are not in Parliament to represent lobbyists, they are there to represent the interests of their constituents. I would prefer to see lobbying by interest groups made an offence.
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 16:30
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Democracy-what is it?

Passed on! Democracy is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet it's maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't raised this thread it'd be pushing up the daisies! its metabolic processes are now 'istory! It's off the twig! Its kicked the bucket, its shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! It is no more.

unashamedly adapted from a television playlet about a blue parrot written by some geezer named after a snake.
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Old 26th Mar 2019, 18:44
  #60 (permalink)  
 
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Democracy: A system of government by the whole population, or eligible members of the population.

In a "pure" democracy, every law is put to a vote of the entire population and the majority always wins. This sounds good, but it means that a minority has zero protection. A majority can literally vote a minority into slavery.

All modern democracies are "representative democracies". The population votes for representatives who in turn write and vote on the laws. Again, the majority always wins. Again, this is dangerous for minorities because the majority can literally vote a minority into slavery.

There are many versions of representative democracies, with the most prevalent being the parliamentary democracy where the voted in representatives form a parliament. The UK is an example of such.

Among the many representative democracies, the US is unique in that it is a constitutional democratic republic, in other words, it is a republic based on a Constitution and its representatives are elected by the eligible population.
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