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Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy,[1] is a form of democracy and a theory of civics in which sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. Depending on the particular system, this assembly might pass executive motions, make laws, elect or dismiss officials, and conduct trials. Direct democracy stands in contrast to representative democracy, where sovereignty is exercised by a subset of the people, usually on the basis of election. Deliberative democracy incorporates elements of both direct democracy and representative democracy.[2]

Some anarchists (usually social anarchists) have advocated forms of direct democracy as an alternative to the centralized state and capitalism; however, others (such as individualist anarchists) have criticized direct democracy and democracy in general for ignoring the rights of the minority, and instead have advocated a form of consensus decision-making. Libertarian Marxists, however, fully support direct democracy in the form of the proletarian republic and see majority rule and citizen participation as virtues. The Young Communist League, USA in particular refers to representative democracy as "bourgeois democracy," implying that they see direct democracy as "true democracy."[3]

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Examples

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Switzerland

In Switzerland, single majorities are sufficient at the town, city, and canton level, but at the national level, double majorities are required on constitutional matters. The intent of the double majorities is simply to ensure any citizen-made law's legitimacy (Kobach, 1993).

Double majorities are, first, the approval by a majority of those voting, and, second, a majority of cantons in which a majority of those voting approve the ballot measure. A citizen-proposed law (i.e. initiative) cannot be passed in Switzerland at the national level if a majority of the people approve, but a majority of the cantons disapprove (Kobach, 1993). For referendums or propositions in general terms (like the principle of a general revision of the Constitution), the majority of those voting is enough (Swiss constitution, 2005).

In 1890, when the provisions for Swiss national citizen lawmaking were being debated by civil society and government, the Swiss copied the idea of double majorities from the United States Congress, in which House votes were to represent the people and Senate votes were to represent the states (Kobach, 1993). According to its supporters, this "legitimacy-rich" approach to national citizen lawmaking has been very successful. Kobach claims that Switzerland has had tandem successes both socially and economically which are matched by only a few other nations, and that the United States is not one of them. Kobach states at the end of his book, "Too often, observers deem Switzerland an oddity among political systems. It is more appropriate to regard it as a pioneer." Finally, the Swiss political system, including its direct democratic devices in a multi-level governance context, becomes increasingly interesting for scholars of European Union integration (see Trechsel, 2005)

Democratic schools

A democratic school is a school that centers on providing a democratic educational environment featuring "full and equal" participation from students and staff. These learning environments position youth voice as the central actor in the educative process by engaging students in every facet of school operations, including learning, teaching, leadership, justice, and democracy, through experience.[4][5] Adult staff support students by offering facilitation according to students' interests.

Sudbury model of democratic education schools are run by a School Meeting where the students and staff participate exclusively and equally. Everyone who wishes to attend can vote, and there are no proxies. As with direct democracy elsewhere, when an issue is important to a person, that person participates in the meeting where the issue is to be discussed. Otherwise, they usually do not bother.[6]

Another tenet of Sudbury schools is giving students the power to choose what to do with their time: individual freedom, freedom of choice, and learning through experience. There are no required classes, and usually there is no requirement to take classes at all. Students are free to choose an activity that they desire, or feel the need to do. They are free to continue activities for as long or short a time as they see fit. In this way, they learn self-discipline, self-regulated learning and self-initiation. They also learn faster and retain more knowledge, thanks to the engagement in activities that they are passionate about. The students at these schools are responsible for and empowered to direct their own education from a very young age. All this is facilitated, supported and managed by the school's democratic framework.

Summerhill School in England has operated a direct democracy approach to decision making for over 80 years and has often come into conflict with the UK government as a result. The school won an appealed to the high court 1999 after it was threatened with closure after which the joint statement confirmed that: "The minister recognised the school had a right to its own philosophy and that any inspection should take into account its aims as an international 'free' school ... both sides went on record as agreeing that the pupils' voice should be fully represented in any evaluation of the quality of education at Summerhill and that inspections must consider the full breadth of learning at the school - learning was not confined to lessons"[7]

Contemporary movements

Some notable contemporary movements working for direct democracy via direct democratic praxis include:

See also

References

  • Arnon, Harel (January 2008). "A Theory of Direct Legislation" (LFB Scholarly)
  • Cary, M. (1967) A History Of Rome: Down To The Reign Of Constantine. St. Martin's Press, 2nd edition.
  • Cronin, Thomas E. (1989). Direct Democracy: The Politics Of Initiative, Referendum, And Recall. Harvard University Press.
  • Finley, M.I. (1973). Democracy Ancient And Modern. Rutgers University Press.
  • Fotopoulos, Takis, Towards an Inclusive Democracy: The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the Need for a New Liberatory Project (London & NY: Cassell, 1997).
  • Fotopoulos, Takis, The Multidimensional Crisis and Inclusive Democracy. (Athens: Gordios, 2005). (English translation of the book with the same title published in Greek).
  • Fotopoulos, Takis, "Liberal and Socialist “Democracies” versus Inclusive Democracy", The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, vol.2, no.2, (January 2006).
  • Gerber, Elisabeth R. (1999). The Populist Paradox: Interest Group Influence And The Promise Of Direct Legislation. Princeton University Press.
  • A. Gutmann, D. F. Thompson, "Why Deliberative Democracy?", Princeton University Press, 2004, Google Books
  • Hansen, Mogens Herman (1999). The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes: Structure, Principles and Ideology. University of Oklahoma, Norman (orig. 1991).
  • Kobach, Kris W. (1993). The Referendum: Direct Democracy In Switzerland. Dartmouth Publishing Company.
  • Köchler, Hans (1995). A Theoretical Examination of the Dichotomy between Democratic Constitutions and Political Reality. University Center Luxemburg.
  • Magleby, David B. (1984). Direct Legislation: Voting On Ballot Propositions In The United States. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Matsusaka John G. For the Many or the Few The Initiative, Public Policy, and American Democracy , Chicago Press
  • National Conference of State Legislatures, (2004). Recall Of State Officials
  • Polybius (c.150 BC). The Histories. Oxford University, The Great Histories Series, Ed., Hugh R. Trevor-Roper and E. Badian. Translated by Mortimer Chanbers. Washington Square Press, Inc (1966).
  • Reich, Johannes (2008). An Interactional Model of Direct Democracy - Lessons from the Swiss Experience. SSRN Working Paper.
  • Raaflaub K. A., Ober J., Wallace R. W., Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece, University of California Press, 2007
  • Verhulst Jos en Nijeboer Arjen Direct Democracy e-book in 8 languages. Free download.
  • Zimmerman, Joseph F. (March 1999). The New England Town Meeting: Democracy In Action. Praeger Publishers.
  • Zimmerman, Joseph F. (December 1999). The Initiative: Citizen Law-Making. Praeger Publishers.

Notes

  1. ^ A. Democracy in World Book Encyclopedia, World Book Inc., 2006. B. Pure democracy entry in Merriam-Webster Dictionary. C. Pure democracy entry in American Heritage Dictionary"
  2. ^ A. Gutmann, 2004, p.1-63
  3. ^ http://yclusa.org/article/articleview/1445/1/278/
  4. ^ Greenberg, D. (1992) Education in America - A View from Sudbury Valley, Democracy must be Experienced to be Learned.
  5. ^ Greenberg, D. (1987) The Sudbury Valley School Experience, Teaching Justice Through Experience.
  6. ^ Greenberg, D. (1987) Free at Last - The Sudbury Valley School, Chapter 22, The School Meeting.
  7. ^ "Summerhill closure threat lifted". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk./1/hi/education/688152.stm. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 

External links


Simple English

of the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, example for direct democracy in Switzerland]]

In a direct democracy, which is also called pure democracy the decicions are not taken by representatives. All decisions are made at the level of the people..[1] When a budget or law needs to be passed, then the idea goes to the people. This obviously could get very complicated but if broken down into state levels of the same system it could be done. There would be no political action groups because they would have to pay off the entire population of the country. Taxes could not be raised without the permission of the people. The few would no longer rule the many and the government would not cost so much money just to operate. In indirect, or representative democracy, citizens elect representatives to make laws on their behalf. This is what most modern countries have today, because of the difficulties in getting millions of people together to do direct democracy (there is not enough time or space).

References

  1. "Democracy Conference". Innertemple.org.uk. http://www.innertemple.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=250&Itemid=198. 

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