Direct democracy promotion: new issues or opportunities?


The processes of globalization of law and development of modern computer sciences and information technologies bring new aspects to the development of modern democracy and re-raise the question of direct power by the people.

In the second millennium came the idea of transformation of a representative democracy based on the electronic voting that is a direct vote. In the West it was called e-democracy and e-democracy, as well as a computer or «telematics» (connection of a computer, television and telephone) democracy. It turns out that e-democracy back to the origins of the democratic idea, that is, to direct democracy.

This issue raises such questions as: whether there is a reasonable cause to believe that over time, representative democracy will transform into a direct «telematics» democracy.

Obviously, the answers to these challenges and issues of our time, we must look for today and deal with them in a legal sphere, to save the institutions of direct democracy from the temptation of the computer, Internet, TV and phone.

Proponents of the direct democracy associates decision of the problem of low civic participation of the population with the development of «computer democracy» (e-democracy), or «telematic democracy». This is the opportunities for citizens, not leaving their house, push button or a telephone vote on various issues, including the election of deputies.

In this regard, some researchers have noticed that the computer can become the great friend of democracy after the ballot box.

So inBrazilin 2002 were held the world’s first electronic national election, and inEstoniain October 2005, the world’s first official vote by the Internet for election of local authorities. However, for example, inRussiasince 2003, the election takes place with the use of digital channels and satellite-based (some even call this process «space the Central Election Commission»). Thus, computerization has the strongest impact on the election campaign, to the entire mechanism of the authorities.

This suggests that in modern democratic processes are beginning to apply new and new means of communication and in this case more appropriately be called a democracy is not electronic, and «communicative».

But, along with the general shortcomings of direct democracy («the tyranny of incompetence» everyman, exposure to people of influence of pressure groups, difficult to introduction of new reforms, the lack of personal responsibility for the consequences of decisions), may have a problem with the anonymity of a vote. Thus, information technologies allow to accumulate information about the voters as opposed to the ballot box, which is an anonymous method of recording preferences.

Therefore, these factors do not allow idealize institutions of direct democracy, which arose with particular relevance in modern society. First, these technologies may destroy citizens’ constitutional rights to privacy, couse they can generate data banks on the voters (for example is a scandal inBritainafter the fall of 2007 the database was lost of half the population). Computer technologies allow tracking the life of a citizen, to know how many times and for whom he voted, when and what kind of participated in public speeches, rallies, meetings, gatherings, in which public organization or political party consists. And this is not a complete list of opportune of computer (this can also include information about income, car, phone, Internet connection, for the use of a credit card to administrative or criminal liability, etc.).

In fact, this suggests the formation of information society and electronic government. Thus, e-democracy, sometimes help of direct democracy, and sometimes gets to it.

Secondly, the trends of political and legal spheres indicate that due to the concentration of a certain group of people the information will increase the executive branch with a decrease in real power of elected representatives. Thus, proclaimed democracy while submitting information and communication technologies to those in whose hands lies the power will always be controlled, rather than electronic («communicative») democracy.

In addition, the electronic voting system is technically not protected, which leads to a deliberate «errors» may rigging and interference in its stakeholders, hackers, criminals.

The aanalyses of the practice of independent decisions by citizens of issues affecting their interests suggests that the elements of e-democracy are preferable to introduce and expand on a regional level and on the local government level. It could be public hearings, public review, and discussion of bills or decisions of local authorities, surveys of citizens through the Internet. For example, citizens could comment on the bill decisions by the official web site provided for this purpose. Thus, the public agency can get a lot of opinions and suggestions, as opposed to conventional forms of debate where citizens, for whatever reasons, are unable to attend.

The approbation of such advisory institutions of democracy at the local level (since the degree of their effectiveness is largely determined by the field) will be the key to effective feedback between voters and their representatives and allow the necessary experience for further application of information and communication technologies.

Here are just some of the issues associated with the active development of «computer» or «telematic» democracy for which we must look for answers today and solve them in a legal course, to save the institutions of direct democracy from the temptation of Communications.



1. Oates S., Owen D., Gibson R. (2006) The Internet and politics : citizens, voters and activists. Routledge.





İlker  Gökhan ŞEN

Research Assistant 

 Anadolu University Faculty of Law

e-mail: [email protected]



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