Many people feel that direct democracy could work to reduce voter apathy and place national and local issues directly in the hands of those they affect most. However, this system has its own problems, particularly practicality and self-interest, and may not even effectively address the political issues that many of its supporters think that it will solve.
All the Yes points:
- Representative democracy is far better suited to dealing with a large electorate.
- The complexity of many political issues would make some of them difficult for the average voter to understand.
- The welfare of the society would be sidelined for the needs of the individual.
- It’s a lot less work.
All the No points:
- Majority of people do not trouble to fully inform themselves on the topics
- One-Party System
- Rule for the people or of the people?
Representative democracy is far better suited to dealing with a large electorate.
Direct democracy may work very well among a small group of people, but the larger the group the more difficult it is to run effectively. Representative democracy eliminates this difficulty by operating on a much smaller scale the majority of the time (via elected representatives of the electorate as a whole).
Many people are upset with the choices that representatives make.
Representative democracy is not democracy at all. It is LEADERSHIP SELECTION, an entirely different concept.
People have no control over what the alleged “representatives” do. They don’t have to make binding promises on the way they will vote and due to “log rolling”, they pass laws that would never find any majority among the people (“If you vote for my law A, I’ll support your law B”).
Political alliances among parties with the intent of becoming a “ruling majority” are even worse: electors will be defrauded of any actual influence, e.g. the “Great Coalition” in Germany, where socialists and conservatives ended up “sharing power”, enacting laws that enraged the members of both electorates in a gigantic act of log rolling.
In short: representatives represent no one but themselves and their own interests. Electoral promises are worthless. Candidates are only elected based on emotional and ideological appeal, never on actual competence. Their choices wouldn’t be the choices of their electorate, were they given a chance to vote on issues (often observed in Switzerland).
The complexity of many political issues would make some of them difficult for the average voter to understand.
Political issues can be exceptionally complicated and take MPs a lot of time and consultation with experts to fully understand themselves, before they can be considered informed enough to vote. Educating the whole electorate on such issues would be exceptionally difficult for a number of reasons, and if an uninformed electorate were to vote on issues the results could be incredibly damaging.
That’s merely insulting and arrogant. Politicians are not smarter than the average voter. Most of the time, they understand nothing about the issue.
Politicians are expert actors, speakers and liars, they’re winners of popularity contests, not experts on any of the issues that they are supposed to make decisions on.
Hardly any politician ever reads the laws he’s supposed to vote on, because he’s too busy with fund-raising and other far more important issues (for them).
Never forget: POWER CORRUPTS (Lord Action). So even if you knew a politician once when he was young and enthusiastic and he seemed quite a nice chap, a short time in government will thoroughly corrupt him. Very few remain true. The only exception that comes to mind is Ron Paul, the senator from Texas, who has consistently voted for low taxes, individual freedom and the restriction of government power.
Trusting politicians and bureaucrats to work for the good of the country is like giving Tequila and car keys to teenagers and hope they’ll bring back your car safely (P.J. O’Rourke).
The welfare of the society would be sidelined for the needs of the individual.
The average individual voter would put his or her needs before those of society as a whole. This self-interest is perfectly natural, but if a law that benefits a smaller group does not benefit a larger group (for example, the protection of minority interests) then that law is not likely to be passed.
BTW, Switzerland voted for a minaret ban. They are just as susceptable to populist nonsense as anyone else.
Switzerland is the only country in the world that operates with direct democracy at all levels of government. It was the only country in Europe that NEVER fell for any populist or extremist system.
The people are far more intelligent and wise than selfish, greedy politicians, whose time horizon is just the next election.
Again and again, Swiss voters proved that they were very well informed on every issue and that they were far more tolerant than the media and politicians claimed.
Having the right to decide on issues means that people feel concerned by them and they will pay attention. People are only uninformed and ignorant in countries where they feel that their opinion doesn’t matter anyway.
The people who pay the bill are also far more likely to have a real long-term interest in making good decisions.
It’s a lot less work.
Most people do not really want to vote all the time on political issues that don’t always affect them, or may require a lot of understanding in order to cast a meaningful vote. Switzerland requires about 10 referenda per year. This is the main criticism of direct democracy from people subject to it.
Voting for a representative who agrees with you takes less effort, doesn’t require you to do anything about issues that don’t concern you and does not require you to learn about complex issues. Complex issues can be sorted out by professionals.
Majority of people do not trouble to fully inform themselves on the topics
The complexities of modern government require careful consideration of all the facts available, reports from all sides, scientific and rational analysis, a lack of knee jerk reaction and a willingness to consider the long term solution and to not put self-interest first.
The majority of people do not have the time, or the inclination, to make a rational well considered judgement.
Point is repeated above and for rather than against. Should be deleted
Direct Democracy in its truest form must necessarily be a one-party system. This party would be a neutral party, whose only policies are to do what benefits the majority of people, be it through their own ideas or those of others.
Before any policy is implemented, it will be scrutinised by the public, and they will vote for it via the polling station/postal service. If the majority of people say yes, then it is made law and, if no, then it isn’t. The government will always provide the choice between various policies on these forms, including the option of “none of the above”. This is the only way to ensure that people get what they want.
However, this direct democracy needs an intelligent and well informed public to make the correct decisions for the whole of society. Much of society is like this. However, if the public wish something to be made law or a certain policy to be seen through, but that it would be truly detrimental to the country, it must be stopped by the government. This leads us into a grey area whereby we cannot know where to draw the line. However, the line is far easier to draw here along with the system being far more democratic than what it is like under a representative democracy.
Representative democracy functions on the premise that differnet parties have different ways of doing things, along with different wants and opinions. The idea that people have to choose between these parties is surely wrong for a democracy. It is not the parties that should be making the policy suggestions, it is the people (In a true democracy). Therefore representative democracy is not really a part of this, for it channels certain views and opinions into a particular party/candidate. This party/candidate then acts on the voters’ behalf (or is supposed to) but it rarely takes heed to what the country has to say. Representative democracy allows the personal agenda of the ruling classes to cloud the agenda of what is right for the citizens of this country.
Rule for the people or of the people?
It could not be argued that representative democracy is better than direct democracy as a form of democracy. Democratic government begins in ancient Greece where people were deciding for themselves regarding war and peace and other public issues. If there were direct democracy today, the UK might not have participated in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. There is a great difference between technical issues and fundamental moral and political choices which should not be the prerogative of politicians. If we understand democracy as the rule of the people we must support the establishment of more direct forms of participation.Direct democracy does not mean that we completely abandon representation since this is simple impossible within modern states or the EU.