Demovote 101, the future polity that is Danish?

by on March 20, 2017 at 12:48 am in Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

What are we doing

We are devising a way to hack direct democracy into representative without changing the rules by building two things: 1) A web-based platform for Danish citizens to vote on all legislature put forth in parliament. 2) A political party to vote according to the general vote on the platform.

Why are we doing it

We believe that the current representative democracy holds a faulty incentive structure for politicians making it inefficient. We follow politics closely and see a need for reform. Giving back decision making powers to the public makes it impossible to block legislation that citizens want and pass legislation that they do not. By taking agency out of the equations, everyone shares a common goal.

Here is the link.  Wouldn’t it be funny if this party did not win every election?

1 Hopaulius March 20, 2017 at 1:20 am

Since everyone wants lower taxes and more government services, what could go wrong?

2 dan1111 March 20, 2017 at 2:25 am

They should check out the problems caused by citizen ballot initiatives in, e.g., California.

At least California’s ballot initiatives are voted on by a broad, representative set of voters in the general election. This Danish plan would be extremely prone to influence from the group of special interest voters that care a lot about any particular bill, since they are the ones who would bother to vote on it. The more obscure the bill, the bigger this problem would be. The special interest problem is one of the key problems of representative government, and their idea amplifies it rather than solving it.

3 mkt42 March 20, 2017 at 5:10 am

Exactly. The Athenians learned of the disadvantages of pure democracy over 2,400 years ago, and the US constitution was designed to overcome those disadvantages. But as California shows, sometimes a little too much direct democracy seeps into the system.

Denmark has the advantage of being a small country, so pure democracy won’t be quite so disadvantageous. But there’s a reason that aside from small towns in New England, there are very few polities of any reasonable size that use pure democracy.

Sounds like another case of web technologies inspiring some tech-savvy but naive “disruptors” thinking they’ve come up with the next killer app.

4 Andrew M March 20, 2017 at 6:22 am

Citizen ballot initiatives work quite well in Switzerland. California’s problems are exacerbated by, but not caused by, citizen ballots.

5 dan1111 March 20, 2017 at 6:40 am

“California’s problems are exacerbated by, but not caused by, citizen ballots.”

I agree with this.

“Citizen ballot initiatives work quite well in Switzerland.”

My impression is that Switzerland, in general, “works” better than California. I’m not very familiar with their ballot initiatives, but it seems that some people are critical of the system there, too.

6 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 20, 2017 at 8:45 am

California’s nonpartisan legislative analyst said Wednesday he’s forecasting a $2.8 billion budget surplus next year and says California should be able to weather a mild recession without major budget cuts or tax increases over the next four years.

Nov 17, 2016

7 dan1111 March 20, 2017 at 8:51 am

Oh good. Now they’ll be able to pay for another mile of high speed rail track.

8 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 20, 2017 at 8:58 am

California is in some ways screwy. There is definitely a higher cost of government. (A $5 “recycling fee” on my $100 Kindle because it is kinda sorta like a TV. That was annoying.) But any idea that California is “broken” is outdated.

It is a socialized paradise, with sunny skies, and a budget surplus.

Heck, we have 3 plants in the kitchen window, which I am told are legal, because they were gift seeds.

9 dan1111 March 20, 2017 at 9:59 am

California is certainly a nice place. I wouldn’t hesitate to live there.

However, it also seems to have more than its share of government dysfunction. A budget surplus is a good thing, of course, but I thought the big financial story was and continues to be unfunded pension liabilities.

10 Anonymous March 20, 2017 at 10:19 am

I believe most unfunded liabilities are at the county and city levels, a more general problem.

Also more generally, legislators at all levels enjoyed good times and thought they would never end. They thought the dot com boom would never end. As that quote says, they are becoming more defensive, considering future recessions.

11 Harun March 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is the second person I have seen using Old News from November 2016 about California’s budget.

Its like they never received the New News from our governor that California is back facing a 1.9 billion dollar deficit.

Apparently there was an accounting error and revenues also are doing poorly.

Old News is just as bad as Fake News.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-jerry-brown-budget-trump-risks-20170110-story.html

12 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 20, 2017 at 11:38 am

Interesting. What I did was: Google “California budget surplus” because I thought there was one, and Google gave me that text in the “answer box” before links.

So not fake, but stale, and the Google AIs are not yet good enough to say “ah, check this out.”

Thanks for doing so though. It’s also not fake news if you adjust your priors.

13 dan1111 March 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm

So the evidence that California is not dysfunctional turned out to be a 1.9 billion dollar error? I’m sorry, but that could not be more perfect.

14 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm

What’s a couple billion between friends?

15 Harun March 20, 2017 at 11:21 am

Sorry, 1.6 billion dollar deficit.

Dyslexia is acting up.

1.9 billion was the “error” that made the budget look good.

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/01/18/1-8-billion-error-adds-to-california-deficit-projection/

16 Boonton March 20, 2017 at 1:53 pm

CA’s deficit is projected (after having surpluses) to be $1.6B on a total budget of $179.5B. That would be 0.89% of the spend on deficit and essentially 0% of the state GDP (over $2.56T at the moment).

I think that this program would be very interesting to try because every bill would be subject to online voting. The ballot fiascos are problematic because they create long term games where big money tries to lock up issues with one-time votes. For example, big money rolled in to use a ballot to ban SSM thereby creating a roadblock against the developing position of the majority in CA (after the ballot it would require a large effort to mount a counter ballot). The problem became moot with the SC overturning it.

This proposed system would not be so easily subjected to such a problem. What passes would just be a bill and a passed bill could be changed the next day by another bill. If big money rolled in to pass an anti-SSM bill big money would have to keep rolling in day after day to keep people mobilized and voting against SSM on the website, a pace which probably couldn’t be maintained unless the voters were already against SSM by a comfortable margin.

17 Harun March 20, 2017 at 10:06 pm

That would explain it. I swear it was the exact same date and story which is why I noticed. I would also have assumed we had a surplus as that was my last impression but I also know we spend like sailors so I googled differently.

18 Giusppe March 20, 2017 at 1:23 am

It might be tragic. Ancient critics of Athenian direct democracy often focused on the erratic and arbitrary nature of governance in a system that depended on the mood and attendance of the day.

19 TGGP March 20, 2017 at 1:29 am

I could have sworn Robin Hanson theorized something like this years ago, although it might have been tied in with letting an immortal corporation hold office.

20 Ahmed Fares March 20, 2017 at 1:30 am

Re: democracy

A quote from Jason Brennan from an article by Alex Tabarrok:

“How other people vote is my business. After all, they make it my business. Electoral decisions are imposed upon all through force, that is, through violence and threats of violence. When it comes to politics, we are not free to walk away from bad decisions. Voters impose externalities upon others.

We would never say to everyone, “Who cares if you know anything about surgery or medicine? The important thing is that you make your cut.” Yet for some reason, we do say, “It doesn’t matter if you know much about politics. The important thing is to vote.” In both cases, incompetent decision-making can hurt innocent people.

Commonsense morality tells us to treat the two cases differently. Commonsense morality is wrong.”

Link to the MR article below:

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/10/the-negative-externality-of-voting.html

21 Alain March 20, 2017 at 11:13 am

Wow. Impressive research.

22 Pshrnk March 20, 2017 at 12:48 pm

If it took Madonna on MTV to get you to vote….I wish you hadn’t

23 Unanimous March 20, 2017 at 2:27 am

There’s been a political party in Australia runnning on this platform for about 10 years – Senator Online. I think they changed their name not long ago.

They have not achived any degree of success. To achieve a senator in Australia requires only about 15% of preferences. With some luck you can achieve this with less than 1% of votes if you are ranked reasonably on other party’s preference lists, as you’d expect a neutral party such as this might be.. But still no success.

People don’t vote to have to vote again – they just want to vote to sack someone once in a while. In countries with variable election term, they get anoyed at having to vote before the end of the term limit.

24 dan1111 March 20, 2017 at 2:56 am

If you vote for a senator who will simply follow public opinion, you are more or less giving away your vote. Instead of helping your side win, you are helping someone who is just as likely to support the other side as yours.

25 Evan Osborne March 20, 2017 at 7:39 am

When I was a college in Austin in the early 1980s, there was a similar party that ran candidates for mayor and city council there. It similarly went nowhere at the polls. Make of that what you will.

26 Larry Siegel March 20, 2017 at 3:24 am

No, this party will not win every election. Policy and leadership are different. I liked Nixon’s policies but Kennedy’s style of leadership. I would have voted for Kennedy (I was too young) but for a party that promoted Nixon’s policies.

27 Caspar Jacobs March 20, 2017 at 3:32 am

A Dutch party ran with this idea in last week’s elections: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeenPeil.

They didn’t have much success though, but it’s interesting the idea is popping up in multiple countries.

28 Thiago Ribeiro March 20, 2017 at 6:28 am

It has been proposed by a candidate in Brazil a few years ago. He lost.

29 Derek March 20, 2017 at 3:54 am

I can easily see how they could lose. People have opinions on many things but only care strongly about a few. As long as the majority happen to be in a minority on issues they care about, party that represents them on dozens or even hundreds of other issues, is unlikely to get their vote.

30 chuck martel March 20, 2017 at 5:40 am

“But there are no institutions on earth which enable each separate person to have a hand in the exercise of Power, for Power is command, and everyone cannot command. Sovereignty of the people is, therefore, nothing but a fiction, and one which must in the long run prove destructive of individual liberties.” Bertrand de Jouvenel

31 Thiago Ribeiro March 20, 2017 at 6:04 am

Evidently, not everyone can command, but some systems seem to be better at allowing the common man’s worries to intervene in the political process as shown by the Republican defeat in 2008 and the Trumpist rebellion in 2016. This is the whole point of a nation conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

32 Andrew M March 20, 2017 at 6:42 am

No, power is not command. We have separation of powers: the legislative is not the executive. It’s entirely reasonable for everyone to have a hand in the legislative.

However in practice this means real power simply shifts to the people who frame the questions. This is usually the civil service, or the “deep state” in modern parlance.

33 Thiago Ribeiro March 20, 2017 at 5:53 am

So those fat cats want voters to do their job for them. Typical…

34 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ March 20, 2017 at 8:51 am

One of the things I read yesterday, and I have no idea which now, made a bid deal of representative democracy as a rational choice for voters who don’t have the time or want to know what is in every Bill.

So really no It shouldn’t be funny if voters in a representative democracy stick with the system. Which was probably your joke.

35 Thiago Ribeiro March 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

They could be part only of decisions they cared and felt they are well-informed about (they are well-imformed enough to be allowed to elect a presidential ticket, a representarive and two senators so…).

36 The Engineer March 20, 2017 at 9:17 am

It’s like storming of the Bastille digitally. What could go wrong?

37 Thiago Ribeiro March 20, 2017 at 9:47 am

It is more like the pre-revolutionary soviets, where the deputies could be recalled if the voters were not satisfied with them. Yeah, what could go wrong? For what is worth, Stalin (and, in a lesser degree, Lenin) did not like the system and it was onemof the first “romantic” things to go when the Bolsheviks consolidated their power.

38 cliff arroyo March 20, 2017 at 10:49 am

This is weird. It’s a single page in English with no links…. A few minutes of googling the guy’s name with Danish words like politisk, lovgivning (legislation0 and stemme (vote) didn’t turn up anything. Why do think this is or will be a thing?

39 dan1111 March 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

+1. Even Googling “Demovote” returns nothing but that page and MR. It makes one wonder how Tyler heard of it.

40 Adrian Ratnapala March 20, 2017 at 11:01 am

“faulty incentive structure for politicians making it inefficient”

This is very middle-European, to assume politicians should be judged on their technocratic efficiency. Or rather, to take a rhetorical stance that *seems* to assume it.

41 Turkey Vulture March 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

Is representative government an inferior good? As we grow wealthier, might we prefer less representation and more direct participation? This has some plausibility to me. But the opportunity cost of direct participation is the loss of leisure time, and in a wealthy society the opportunities for leisure will be highly developed.

I guess my prediction would be that those who favor more direct democracy will succeed in getting people to participate only when they successfully fuse leisure/entertainment to participating in the political process. The gamification of politics. Think of all the XP you can accumulate!

42 Andrew M March 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Wouldn’t this system likely appeal to a certain subset of voters, biasing the results akin to how electoral turnout varies along demographic lines? User base likely to skew young, affluent, and tech-savvy

43 Mark March 20, 2017 at 1:35 pm

The recently deceased Kenneth Arrow would have predicted fairly rapid disillusionment.

44 The Other Jim March 20, 2017 at 6:53 pm

>Wouldn’t it be funny if this party did not win every election?

I said the same thing from 2009-16 while the Dems were continuously weaponizing the Executive Branch.

The answer? It’s freaking hilarious!!

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