Advancing Democracy

Churchill quoteLiberal democracy needs to strengthen its good sides, become more accountable and enable more voter choices.

1. Global Governance
2. Fairer Elections
3. International Relations

1. Global Governance

While global problems have always existed, the current international system is deeply flawed and highly dysfunctional in more than one way as models for decision-making processes and governance need to be re-imagined and re-articulated, yet great care should be taken so as not in the process give rise to new forms of tyranny. While liberal democracy is a magnificent invention indeed, liberal democracy certainly always needs to be improved and advanced. Liberal democracy is not just a political tool or an end goal, but liberal democracy can and needs to be adapted to the many global problems that the world currently faces yet usually fails to resolve. Hence the intellectual task is to responsibly deconstruct liberal democracy by enhancing the good aspects of liberal democracy while discarding unattractive aspects of this unique form of government and in particular so the normalization of lies and cynicism.

At the global level are the United Nations and a large number of inter-governmental organizations in many different fields, many of which are part of the UN system. The UN is however dysfunctional and patently undemocratic in being dominated by countries that are certainly not liberal democracies. The European Union is also dysfunctional in its own way by means of its highly peculiar organization. Yet the European Union is the only major international organization that is formally open to liberal democracies only. When non-democracies have been offered the prospect of EU membership this has proven particularly effective in incentivizing economic elites of these countries to promote democratization and liberalization. If non-democracies in other parts of the world were also offered EU membership then there is little doubt that most would move resolutely towards transition to liberal democracy with tremendous public support for this brought about by the significant economic incentive.

The solution to this predicament is in short to gradually abolish the UN and replace it with an extended, significantly reformed and renamed EU which would be ready to extend the offer of membership to all liberal democracies in all parts of the world. Borders between the independent member states should be redrawn in accordance with each historic national heritage language (linguistic statehood) and an extensive liberal-democratic consensus consultation mechanism should be established to peacefully and democratically change borders where populations desire change of jurisdiction. Also, standard languages should be merged and split up in accordance with reasonable universal principles and a universal phonetic alphabet should become the norm for all literary languages. While a border population should be entitled to secede, the neighboring state that they would join would first have to agree to the accession. This new expanded EU should be renamed as the United Democracies and the division of power between the United Democracies and its member states should be most carefully defined and strictly legally delimited indeed.

The purpose of the international parliament of United Democracies should be to a) legally protect many different types of diversity that are often existentially harmed and threatened by nation states and their economies b) while committing to maintain and nourish many different types of open arenas:

This includes (1) legally safeguarding vital open arenas; namely liberal democracy, coexistence, cyber space, the environment, free fair trade, the Internet, linguistic statehood, the judiciary, mass media, open society, the right to roam, seas/lakes/waterways, social contract, space; (2) governments proactively respecting biological, cognitive, cultural, functional, genetic, idiomatic/linguistic, personal, political and sexual diversity; (3) legislating specifically relevant cognitive equality in diversity and (4) while respecting universal personhood and citizenship for all persons irrespective of species or subspecies/race.

There should however be no global government as the Arena & Diversity Parliament of United Democracies should be merely legislating international law without ever singling out or even mentioning any particular independent or non-independent state, population or territory.

2. Fairer Elections

There have been numerous attempts at synthesizing the two main types of elections, namely the-winner-takes-all Anglo-Saxon system and the so called proportionate electoral system, yet both systems are seriously flawed as are the existing syntheses as well.

A new type of personal proportionate election would be based on the idea of not having too large parliaments so that voters would be more familiar with their own elected representatives. A parliamentary size of 100 elected members would thus in most countries be an appropriate size for a chamber of parliament.

In an independent nation state there should be two national parliaments, namely one Economy Parliament tasked with budgets and taxation and one Legislative Parliament tasked with legislation only. Each of the two parliaments would have 100 elected members. Elections to the two parliaments should however not take place simultaneously. The entire geographic area of the independent state should constitute one single unified electoral district.

Elections should be digitalized and the voting power of each MP in parliament would entirely depend upon how many votes the candidate received in the parliamentary elections. At most a candidate could wield 3% of the votes in parliament. Once a candidate has digitally reached the maximum number of votes, it would no longer be possible for further voters to vote for that candidate so they would need to vote for yet other candidates. Only individual persons and not party lists should be able to stand for elections to the national parliament.

Each voter would have 1 000 votes at her/his disposal and could electorally invest all votes in one singular candidate or divide the votes between different candidates at her/his own discretion and preference. With primary and secondary votes, the voter would decide who would get the votes if a preferred candidate is either not elected or has already reached the 3% level of votes by means of voting by preceding voters. The 100 candidates that in the final count each receive the greatest number of votes will also be the ones elected to parliament.

Cabinet ministers tasked with various specialized domestic policy tasks should be chosen by the people in direct elections together with two deputy ministers running on each slate. A cabinet minister should be elected for a two-year period and the ministerial elections would not take place simultaneously but throughout the year in thus reinvigorating liberal democracy and making elections far more relevant, responsive and providing much more specific choice for voters. While hypothetically this could lead to somewhat lower rates of electoral participation than in parliamentary elections, it is highly likely that those really concerned and affected will vote indeed. The prime minister and the ministers tasked with issues pertaining to relations with other countries (defense, intelligence, trade and foreign relations) should rather be proposed and approved by the each of the two chambers of the national parliament. The minister of justice should however be elected by the legislative chamber of parliament and the minister of finance should similarly be elected by the economic chamber of parliament.

While constitutional monarchy has been proven a favorable, indeed stabilizing element in the historical evolution of many liberal democracies and still is, presidential systems of governance tend to descend into renewed dictatorship. Therefore the post of ruling presidential head of state should be abolished everywhere. The same electoral system of this suggested proportionate personal election system should be established for the purpose of electing the Arena & Diversity Parliament of the United Democracies which also need not have more than 100 members of parliament. This means that most voters would likely mostly vote for candidates from other countries than their own but this would ensure representation for minorities of many different kinds and not just majorities as in the existing European Parliament. Voting rights should no longer be limited by age.

Local and regional governments should be abolished in favor of specialized regional vertical parliaments as tasked with various different issues. E.g. a regional Environment parliament would be tasked exclusively with those issues in a particular region, federal subject or confederal member state. Other regional parallel parliaments would have jurisdiction over other tasks such as education, health or infrastructure. One aspect of the electoral reforms suggested would be that political parties would essentially become redundant since political parties would really no longer be needed for electoral purposes. Rather, elections for specialized regional vertical parliaments would be contested by lists from specialized NGOs. Elections for a regional Environment parliament would be contested by different environmental organization in offering voters competing environmental agendas. Each specialized regional parliament would have only 50 members and would be elected through conventional, existing procedures of proportionate elections. It should also be possible to run as a single candidate for the vertical regional parliaments which would mean that it would no longer be possible for further voters to vote for that candidate in that election once s/he has reached the required number of votes.

3. International Relations

There is really not much dispute that liberal democracy is an unparalleled and uniquely suitable system of government. However, countries whose publics do not overwhelmingly embrace the worldwide value system of liberal democracy are unlikely to consistently elect safe majorities of liberal democratic candidates and this type of premature democratization usually results in renewed dictatorship.

Therefore, a relatively liberal dictatorship is legitimate if liberal democracy is not yet reasonably feasible due to predominantly anti-democratic and even totalitarian sentiments among the voting public. This means that some dictatorships are therefore legitimate from the perspective of liberal democracy if the apparent alternative would be worse than the pre-existing dictatorship. Therefore, such legitimate dictatorships should not be asked to engage in irresponsible instant democratization, but should rather be encouraged to promote internationally monitored long-term societal processes that will eventually pave the way for full implementation of liberal democracy.

While the institution of monarchy is in many ways tasteless and bizarre, it is very useful indeed for protecting existing liberal democracies and for shepherding dictatorships towards the ultimate goal of full liberal democracy. Therefore, while the office of presidential head of state should be abolished everywhere, monarchy combined with increasingly freely elected parliaments should be encouraged in dictatorships. Existing dictators may become hereditary monarchs who would gradually cede more and more power to their respective parliaments up until liberal democracy is finally achieved.

There are always existential threats against open society and liberal democracy and the commitment to fighting those threats without belittling them as is commonly done need to take on a far more central role in liberal democracy and open society. Sometimes those existential threats against open society and liberal democracy appear within liberal democracies, sometimes these threats emanate from dictatorships and sometimes both.

Yet it is vital to retain the sovereignty of nation states even as linguistic statehood becomes the new international norm with often new internationel borders. Issues regarding immigration should be under the exclusive sovereignty of each independent state and particular independent states may voluntarily institute free migration and common citizenship among themselves if their respective peoples indeed so democratically prefer.

Published in 2015